Scott moves into contention in Tampa with second-round 66

By Ryan LavnerMarch 15, 2013, 8:11 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – His broomstick putter pressed confidently against his sternum, his chipping motion shored up after a breakthrough session, Adam Scott boasted Friday that his short game never has been better. For a guy who plays by his own schedule – this is his fourth and final start before the Masters – his timing couldn’t be more ideal.

Why so confident with his wedges? It stems from a three-hour short-game session in January at Sanctuary Cove in Australia. There, he worked through an entire shag bag of balls, striking each chip with the same weight and feel. Controlled. Consistent. Afterward, he thought to himself, “I think that’s the best bunch of chips I’ve ever hit.”

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Scott doesn’t miss many greens – in fact, the Aussie has missed only 10 so far this week at Innisbrook, just a few days after bludgeoning the Blue Monster on the weekend, shooting 68-64 to vault into a tie for third – but perhaps even more important, he’s equipped with this: the knowledge that his short game is no longer a liability.

“It’s reassuring to know that you don’t have to hit a perfect shot every time,” he said. “You can go for your shot a little bit and the short game will be there to back you up.”

That wasn’t always the case, of course. In 2009, during one of his worst seasons as a pro, Scott’s long-game struggles began to affect his short game. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Whatever the case, his ball-striking failures put too much stress on his short game. And when he couldn’t scramble his way to a good score, it put even more stress on his long game to hit it close.

“Eventually, if it’s not relieved,” Scott said, “it’s all going to break down.”

The switch to the long putter came first, in February 2011. But his wedge game – and in particular, his chipping and putting – demanded his undivided attention this offseason.

After another ball-striking clinic Friday in which he hit 14 greens at Innisbrook’s tree-lined Copperhead Course, Scott was delighted by a bogey-free 66 that left him one shot back of PGA Tour rookie Shawn Stefani heading into the weekend at the Tampa Bay Championship.

“I’m not missing many greens,” Scott said, “but it’s nice when you miss a couple that you feel really confident that you can walk up there and get it up-and-down.”

Save for the Tavistock Cup, a two-day exhibition outside Orlando, this represents Scott’s fourth and final start before teeing it up at the Masters. Those aren’t many competitive reps, but it actually represents an improvement from last year, when he made only three appearances before showing up for the year’s first major (T-8).

“The kind of schedule I play,” he said, “it’s important to play well every time I play.”

That hasn’t been an issue of late. Since the start of 2011, Scott has finished in the top 10 in nearly half (20 of 42) of his worldwide starts. But this time of year always brings more urgency. As it were, Scott flew to Georgia on Tuesday for a scouting trip at Augusta National. His guide for the day was Ernie Els.

Awkward? Not in the least.

Ever since he bogeyed four consecutive holes at Royal Lytham to hand the Open trophy to Els, Scott has maintained that he was happy for his good friend and would view his experience there as nothing but a success. “It’s a highlight for me last year,” he said Friday.

Scar tissue from such a dramatic meltdown is always a concern, but Scott thinks he has made the proper strides. Just a few weeks after the Open, he pieced together a T-11 at the PGA. A few months later, he won the Talisker Masters in Australia.

And here he is, a 19-time worldwide winner armed with a revamped short game, and he’s one shot off the lead, in serious contention for his first PGA Tour title in 20 months … and with another major championship just a month away.

“I feel like now’s my time,” Scott said of his major prospects. “It’s up to me to make it happen. I’ve gotten my game to a point where I feel like I’m right there. Hopefully I can get the first one and then we’ll see. But everyone takes a different path.'

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

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

What it means: 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.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

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.