Scott cards 62, holds lead after Rd. 1 at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 20, 2014, 8:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Masters champion Adam Scott was feeling ill when he arrived at Bay Hill. One majestic round with the putter Thursday made him feel a lot better.

Scott made five putts from about 20 feet or longer, two of them for eagle and one of them from off the green for birdie, and matched the course record with a 10-under 62 to build a four-shot lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The conditions were close to perfect. So was his work on the greens.

''I made a lot of putts today, and a lot of putts from considerable length,'' Scott said. ''I hit a lot of nice shots, too, but it wasn't like I was hitting it 4 feet. I had a round like this in Australia at the end of last year – in the first six holes, I didn't hit it outside 5 feet. There's a lot of different ways to get the ball in the hole. But it's good for the confidence. It's what I wanted. I sat in here yesterday and said I'd like to make some birdies and build the confidence. And today is a good start to that.''

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano had his best round of the year with a 66 and was all but forgotten.

Scott walked from the ninth green across the practice range to the scoring trailer as one player after another turned his head and asked how low Scott went on the day. One caddie quipped, ''Is there a 10-shot rule when you haven't teed off?''

It was the lowest round in 30 years at Bay Hill, and it was good enough to make a large gallery following Scott forget for a moment that defending champion Tiger Woods is not here this week because of a back injury.


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Andy Bean in 1981 and Greg Norman in 1984 are the only other players with a 62 at Bay Hill.

Brandt Snedeker, Morgan Hoffmann and Paul Casey were at 67.

''Can we ban that putter the rest of the week?'' Snedeker said with a smile when told about Scott's round with his long putter. ''He's playing unbelievable. He's one of the best players in the world right now. I don't think 10 under is doable for me.''

Patrick Reed had a 69 while playing with Scott. The third member of their group, U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, struggled with his putter early and shot 71.

''Awesome round,'' Rose said. ''He putted like a Masters champion.''

After watching Scott make another putt – this one from 20 feet for eagle on No. 4 – Rose asked if Scott could get to No. 1 if he were to win at Bay Hill. The answer: no and yes. He couldn't overtake Woods this week, but likely would go to No. 1 over the next few weeks if neither played.

Scott had reason to be mildly surprised by this round. For one thing, he had not been to Bay Hill in five years. Scott typically plays Innisbrook, but decided to mix it up. And he does have some experience on the bag. His caddie is Steve Williams, who worked for Woods in six of the eight Bay Hill wins.

Even more surprising, though, is that Scott said he was coping with flu-like symptoms, and still doesn't feel completely healthy.

''It's hard to say that I'm sick,'' Scott said with a smile. ''I feel actually better now than when I woke up. Just a bit under the weather. I can't complain.''

Scott is a believer in the adage, ''Beware the injured golfer.'' He lowered his expectations, concerned himself only with the next shot and was more concerned with his energy than feeling any nerves.

It didn't take long for him to realize it was going to be a special day, starting with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th to start his round. He got up and down from a bunker on the par-5 12th for birdie, made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th, and then rolled one in from 30 feet on the 15th from a collection area right of the green.

Scott drilled a 7-iron into 35 feet on the par-5 16th and made that birdie. On the front nine, he hit a pure 3-wood into 20 feet on the par-5 fourth for birdie, and then hit a tough bunker from some 35 yards away to 8 feet for birdie on the par-5 sixth.

He also missed an 8-footer for birdie on No. 8, and he picked up his lone bogey by missing the 18th green well to the left.

It was the sixth time Scott has had a 62 on the PGA Tour, the most recent in 2011 at Firestone the year he won. But he didn't want to look at it as anything more than just a great start, especially with half of the field still to play in the afternoon.

''Hopefully, with a solid round tomorrow I keep myself right in this golf tournament,'' he said. ''Like at any event, you want to start and put yourself right in it from the get-go and I've done that here.''


DIVOTS: Bubba Watson hit three tee shot into the water on the par-5 sixth and made an 11. He shot 83 and withdrew. ... Snedeker had not broken 70 in the first round all year until Thursday. ... Pat Perez opened with a 70, ending his streak of nine straight tournaments in which he shot in the 60s the first round.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.