Scotts 62 Sets Pace at the Memorial

By Associated PressJune 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Adam Scott was frustrated by hitting good shots and signing for mediocre scores. After a spirited chat with his caddie, both were determined to squeeze everything they could out of the second round at the Memorial.
 
Scott flirted with perfection Friday at Muirfield Village, missing four putts inside 12 feet and still shooting a 10-under 62.
 
It gave him a one-shot lead over Rod Pampling, and he hopes it will be enough to shake off the golf gremlins that have been holding him back since his victory in Houston two months ago.
 
'We just told each other what we thought about what's going on out there, a bit of a heart-to-heart, because we knew I was close to playing really well,' Scott said of his talk with Tony Navarro. 'Our idea was to come out and be focused, and neither of us make a mistake.'
 
He made one, hitting a heavy 7-iron that tumbled off the front of the green and into the bunker on the par-3 16th, and his 12-foot par putt rippled over the edge. He followed that with a 20-footer on the 17th for his 11th birdie of the round.
 
Scott was at 12-under 132, one shot ahead of Pampling, who played bogey-free for a 68. Bubba Watson had a chance to tie for the lead until he went long on the 18th for a bogey for a 68, leaving him at a 10-under 134 with another Aussie, Aaron Baddeley (68).
 
It was another day of good scoring conditions, with stifling heat, mild breezes, fairways with plenty of roll and greens that held approach shots and rolled smoothly.
 
That wasn't the case for Tiger Woods.
 
The three-time Memorial champion hit the ball decently enough, but couldn't make anything outside 6 feet until he rolled in a 10-foot birdie on the final hole for a 72, leaving him 10 shots behind.
 
'You look at a lot of guys up there, they're making a bunch of putts, and not just from 6, 7, 8 feet. They're making them from 20 feet,' Woods said. 'I just haven't done that.'
 
Scott didn't really need to. He hit the ball so pure that except for hitting into the bunker on the 16th and going into the first cut of rough beyond the 18th green, he had only one putt longer than 15 feet.
 
Jim Furyk noticed the 62 on the board before he teed off, but what really got his attention were the other low scores from the morning group of players -- some were pretty good, but nowhere close to what Scott did.
 
Scott's round was one shot off the course record -- John Huston had a 61 in 1996 -- but even more impressive was that the next lowest score on the day was 67.
 
'That round was really good because it separated himself,' Furyk said after his 69. 'That's how I judge a low round. Someone might shoot 63, and you'll see a couple of 64s and a couple of 65s. But when the next best round is a 67 ... that's a darn good round.'
 
It was so good that Scott twice had reason to think about a 59.
 
After going out in 30 to move into a tie for the lead, he birdied the next three holes to reach 9 under through 12 holes, then hit his approach to 5 feet on the 13th. Another birdie would have put him at 10 under for the round, needing only three birdies over the final five holes to hit golf's magic number.
 
'The way things were going, it was realistic with a par 5 in there,' Scott said.
 
The slick putt slid by on the right, and Scott returned his focus to the next shot. He escaped with par on a good two-putt from 40 feet on the 14th, then hit his best shot of the day. With 248 yards to a pin at the back right of the green behind a bunker, Scott hit 5-wood that faded slightly and held its line over the final 100 yards, catching a ridge and settling 5 feet away.
 
Then he went back to crunching numbers.
 
'When I got up there and saw it so close, I did the math again,' Scott said with a smile. 'I thought, 'OK, here we go.''
 
And there it went. It was another fast putt that Scott didn't want to run too far by the cup in case he missed, and the speed was such that it immediately lost its line and tailed off to the right.
 
'Going 11 under with three to go, there's a good chance,' Scott said. 'I shouldn't be so good at math.'
 
But he had no trouble adding his scores to 62, matching his lowest score on the PGA Tour.
 
'We were watching it,' Ben Curtis said. 'It looked like 59 there for a while, especially through 12 or 13 holes. But he still could have the low score by six shots today.'
 
It was only five -- U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and Trevor Immelman shot 67s.
 
Pampling was one shot out of the lead and five clear of Scott when he teed off, playing bogey-free and picking up enough birdies to leave him satisfied. It just wasn't enough to keep his nose in front, even after rounds of 65-68.
 
'You'd like to be leading after two rounds if you shoot those numbers,' Pampling said. 'But obviously, the conditions were pretty nice early on, and Adam took full advantage. I couldn't believe it. He kept going, didn't he? But the chance was there.'
 
They will be in the final pairing Saturday, two Australians separated by 11 years. Pampling was an apprentice when he first met Scott at a place called Twin Waters.
 
'One of the guys said this young kid was out there playing,' said the 37-year-old Pampling. 'They were talking about how good he was. I don't know what score he shot there, but that was the first time I had met him.'
 
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    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).


    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.