Scott Stays Hot, Widens Lead To Six


Adam Scott stayed hot. Everyone else is getting smoked.

Thanks to a 4-under-par 68 Friday on the Championship Course, Scott is hovering in record territory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard.

The No. 2 player in the world, Scott completed 36 holes in 14-under 130 to open a yawning seven-stroke lead, the largest in tournament history and tied for the third largest ever on the PGA TOUR. He also tied the tournament record for low opening 36 holes, equaling the 1981 efforts of Andy Bean and Tom Watson.

"I think it was a pretty good way to back up a low round," said Scott, who tied the course record Thursday with a 62. "It's not easy to do that, especially around a tough course. I played really solid. I would say I struck the ball much better than yesterday, but just didn't quite make the putts. But it's tough to do that all the time around a track like this."

Paul Azinger and Tiger Woods shared the previous mark for largest halfway margin – four strokes – with their play in 1988 and 2002, respectively. Azinger went on to win by five; Woods won by four shots, one of his record eight Bay Hill victories.

Scott's four nearest pursuers are J.B. Holmes, Francesco Molinari and Chesson Hadley, a winner two weeks ago at the Puerto Rico Open. Hadley shot 68, Holmes 69 and Molinari 70 for 7-under 137.

Swirling winds, tricky pins and firm, glassy greens all contributed to making scoring more difficult in Round 2. Keegan Bradley's 5-under 67 was the day's best effort, thanks to 25 putts. "The putter was the difference. Finally made a few," said Bradley, tied at 6-under 138 with four others. "I feel like I've got some good mojo going into the weekend."

Brandt Snedeker, Jamie Donaldson, Jason Kokrak and Morgan Hoffmann all shot 71 to come in at 6-under 138. The field scoring average of 73.381 was a stroke-and-a-half higher than the opening round.

"This is the best shape I've ever seen this golf course in," said Holmes, who leads the field with just 49 putts through two rounds. "The greens are absolutely perfect. They're fast and they are firming up."

Scott's golf game is firming up as well, and just in time, it seems, with the defense his Masters title approaching. He's looking for his first PGA TOUR victory since The Barclays in August.

"It would be exactly what I need, I think. The confidence you can take out of a win and playing some good shots when it counts is huge," said Scott, who made six birdies against two bogeys. "The feeling of being in contention close to a major can really count for a lot when or if you do get in contention at the major. The feelings are fresh and you've been able to do it. I would take a lot out of a win this week and heading up there [to Augusta]."

At the moment, however, he is taking nothing for granted.

"We're only halfway, and there's still... seven shots over two days is not enough," Scott said. "I don't think you can ever [have a big] enough lead, to be honest. So like I said, the challenge might be just to start again and try and play a great 36 holes, start fresh, and try to be the leader after the next 36."

The cut came in at 146, 2 over par, with 77 players qualifying for the weekend, including Southern Amateur champion Zachary Olsen. Among the notables departing early were Justin Rose, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and former major winners Angel Cabrera and David Duval.

-- Dave Shedloski