Adam Scott tied another record on a blustery Friday at Bay Hill in Orlando and increased his lead to seven shots at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Australian posted a 4-under par 68 to go with Thursday’s 62 for a total of 138.
His 36-hole total of 14-under par ties a record at Bay Hill that was set in 1981 by Andy Bean and Tom Watson. He easily set another record though. His 7-stroke lead after two rounds is the largest lead since a four-shot lead by Tiger Woods in 2002 and Paul Azinger in 1988. They both went on to win the event in those years.
Scott had 2 birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn with a score of 35, they had a run of 4 birdies in 6 holes on the back nine. He could have had the Bay Hill record to himself except for a bogey-5 on the par-4 18th hole, but Adam Scott will savor the big lead halfway through the tournament.
Three golfers—J.B. Holmes, Chesson Hadley and Francisco Molinari–are tied for second at 7-under 137 heading into the third round on Saturday. Holmes had five birdies on his card, but also had a double-bogey on the 11th to shoot 69. Hadley matched Scott’s score on Friday with a 68. He had 4 birdies and 14 pars for the day. Molinari fired a 70 with a birdie, and eagle and a bogey. There is quite a logjam one more shot back at minus-6 including Keegan Bradley, who had the best round of the day at 67. He carded 6 birdies and one bogey, which came at the 18th. He shares 5th place with Jamie Donaldson, Jason Kokrak, Brandt Snedeker and Morgan Hoffmann at 138.
Even though it’s only the halfway point, the lead at Bay Hill is important to Adam Scott. With Tiger Woods sitting out this event with back spasms, Scott has a chance to overtake Woods for the number-one spot in the world golf rankings. It would also mean a lot of momentum as he looks to defend his title at the Masters at Augusta in April. He said after the round that the confidence he “can take out of a win” is huge, and playing some good shots “when it counts” can only help him at Augusta.
Speaking of Tiger Woods, there is no update to report on his health. There is only speculation. Woods has not given any hints as to when he will be back, only to say that he is following “protocols” with his doctor. For Woods, skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational is a very big deal. The tournament at Bay Hill is usually his last competition and tune-up before the Masters. As an eight-time winner of the event, it has ultimately served as his psychological springboard for the year’s first major. If he plays no more events before Augusta, it will force him to attempt to accomplish something he has never done before—win the Masters without having a victory earlier in the year. Woods has 14 major championships and is chasing record of 18 by Jack Nicklaus. Considering Woods health, what once seemed like a certainty is now beginning to look out of reach. If he does not win in April at Augusta, it will mark 19 majors that have gone by without Tiger Woods holding the first-place trophy.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
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