Scott thriving post-anchoring

By Rex HoggardMarch 5, 2016, 12:27 am

DORAL, Fla. – Rumors of Adam Scott’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Not that Scott, one of the PGA Tour’s most understated and unassuming superstars even when he’s been winning major championships, would ever play the role of martyr.

That’s just not his style.

Instead, the 35-year-old is at ease letting his play speak for itself.

In his last 11 competitive rounds Scott is 35 under par, a run that includes his victory last week at the Honda Classic, a runner-up showing at the Northern Trust Open, Monday’s 70 up the road at the Seminole Pro-Member and two clutch rounds of 68-66 at this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship that have propelled him to a two-stroke advantage at Doral.

Not bad for a guy who some dismissed as a competitive dinosaur who would be left behind by this year’s ban on anchored putting.

He couldn’t make the transition to something else after so many years with a broom-handle putter, the naysayers figured.

Without the comfort of that anchored lifeline even one of the game’s best ball-strikers, which has always been Scott’s reputation, would be relegated to the second shelf, the prognosticators announced.

This is, after all, the same guy who showed up at last year’s Presidents Cup in Korea brimming with confidence over his new cross-handed grip only to ditch that method after just two days.

WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, photos and videos

A tie for 56th in his first start of 2016 at the Sony Open only solidified that narrative, but then came the Northern Trust Open, where the Australian finished runner-up but, more importantly, gained an average of 4.751 strokes on the field putting.

If strokes gained-putting doesn’t resonate with you, consider that in 2015, when Scott managed nothing better than a tie for fourth place and failed to advance past the first FedEx Cup playoff event, he lost .396 strokes per round.

Last week at the Honda Classic he was even more impressive on the greens, converting 68 of 73 attempts for the week from 10 feet and in for a one-stroke victory.

It was more of the same on Friday at Doral when he birdied his first two holes and played his last four in 3 under par.

In other sports they call that “finishing strong.”

“I've gotten off to good starts and good finishes. When you're playing pretty good anyway, that helps your scoring a lot,” Scott said. “I hope I can rely on that the next two days.”

If Scott’s take doesn’t exactly sound effusive, Dustin Johnson, who played with Scott the first two days at Doral, had a more enthusiastic take on the leader’s play.

“He's driving it in the fairway and hitting the greens and rolling in the putts you're supposed to,” said Johnson, who is tied with Rory McIlroy in second place at 8 under. “He played well yesterday and today. I played well today. Yesterday I was just watching a lot.”

But then if Scott isn’t exactly bouncing around Doral this week he’s come by his measured approach honestly. The 2014-15 season was something of a learning experience even for a player who had won 11 Tour titles.

Although he’s reluctant to talk about it, he also felt the drumbeat of the impending ban on anchoring. While there was always confidence he could make the transition to something, anything, different, there was also the fear of the unknown.

“It's hard to play at the top, top level for a long period of time. I think there's one guy [Tiger Woods] who seemed to make that look a lot easier than it really is,” Scott said. “I feel like I had a really great run of golf for about four years, which was good, and last year, I was just off and struggling to find it week in and week out.”

Scott had been through this before, most notably in 2009 when he missed more cuts (10) than he made (nine) and needed to be a captain’s pick for that year’s Presidents Cup.

He would rebound from that valley, winning five times over the next four seasons, including the 2013 Masters.

All of which means that if the road back to competitive relevance is long, at least for Scott it’s a path well traveled, which made his most recent climb much less concerning 

"Since the Presidents Cup, really, I've just been working to put my game back into that consistent spot, and yeah, it's taken this long to really get it up to that level,” Scott said. “That's how hard it is to play at a really high level out here. It can go quick and it takes a little while to come back.”

Whether the weekend at Doral turns out to be another strong finish like last week at PGA National or not, it’s safe to say that after three stellar weeks he’s back.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."