Notes Scott Plays Solo Crane Picks Up Pace


2005 Tour ChampionshipATLANTA -- Adam Scott likes to go it alone, just not under these circumstances.
Because of Phil Mickelson's withdrawal, there's only 29 players in the Tour Championship. That forces one player to tee off by himself in the first twosome -- or should that be onesome? -- of the day.
After opening with a 3-over 73, Scott had the dubious distinction of going solo Friday.
``There's not much talking,'' the Australian quipped. ``You're just trying to get the round over with.''
Less than 2 1/2 hours later, he was done -- putting out on No. 18 while the second group still had five holes to play. He improved to a 69 despite bogeys on the final two holes.
``I like playing by myself,'' Scott said. ``You don't have to worry about what the other guy is doing.''
But solo is not a desired status at tournament time, since it usually means a golfer played poorly the day before. Scott got to play a round by himself at last year's Tour Championship, which also had a 29-man field after Davis Love III withdrew.
``I don't want to make a habit of it,'' Scott said.
He'll have a playing partner for Saturday. Sean O'Hair gets to set the lonely pace in the third round after his second straight 73.
Ben Crane is trying to speed things up.
A notoriously slow player, Crane got plenty of unwanted attention over the summer at the Booz Allen Classic when Rory Sabbatini -- disgusted at the snail's pace of his partner -- putted out at No. 17 and went on to the 18th tee before Crane sauntered up the green.
In early September, Crane instructed his caddie to time his shots at the Canadian Open, hoping that would shave 10 to 15 seconds off each swing.
``We're pretty close,'' Crane said. ``It's gotten to the point now where I'm not in violation when I'm hitting shots like I probably would have been a few months ago.''
While Sabbatini was criticized for his breach of etiquette, Crane can understand the point.
``You know, when you have a lot of people telling you, 'Hey, look, you're going too slow here,' obviously it's time to pick it up,'' Crane said. ``It's been a process of trying to obviously pick up the pace over the ball over every shot, and it's gotten better.''
Crane, making his first appearance in the season-ending Tour Championship, finds himself in contention after shooting a 5-under 65 Friday, tied for the best round of the day. He was three strokes behind co-leaders Bart Bryant and Retief Goosen.
Crane played the second round with Davis Love III, who apparently had no complaints about the pace of play.
``Is it where I want it to be?'' Crane asked. ``No. I don't get up over the ball like Davis Love. He gets up over the ball, looks at the target and fires. I'm not there yet.''
Tiger Woods got a sampling of Southern hospitality at the 10th hole.
He was standing over a 20-foot putt to save par, gently swinging his club back and forth, when suddenly he backed away and sneezed.
``Bless you!'' the gallery chanted in unison.
Woods broke out in a big smile as he walked back to his ball.
``Thank you,'' he said.
Stuart Appleby had some good fortune on his way to a 65.
Equaling Ben Crane for the best round of the day, Appleby managed a birdie at the 430-yard 14th hole despite hitting his tee shot off a tree.
The errant shot soared over the gallery, but miraculously deflected back into the fairway. He followed with a 9-iron to 6 feet and sank the putt.
``You always need bounces like that,'' Appleby said.
The Aussie also had an eagle at the 607-yard ninth hole, using a driver and a 3-wood to get within 10 feet on the flag. He made the putt, one of several crucial strokes that helped his round.
``If you wanted to be greedy, that's the type of day you'd want to have every time you played golf,'' Appleby said.
He has struggled with his putting game, but it seems to be coming around. He saved par at the 13th with a nice 12-footer -- the kind of putt he's been missing.
``Putting hasn't been a lot of fun for me the last few months,'' Appleby said. ``I haven't really managed to roll the ball as effectively as I would have wanted, and that's where the scoring is.''
Charles Howell has one of the most spectacular putts of the day, sinking a 60-footer for birdie at the par-3 11th. Even Steve Williams, the caddy for playing partner Tiger Woods, chimed in at the next tee: ``Nice putt, Charles.'' Howell shot a 68 and is 5-under at the midway point, five strokes off the lead. ... Bart Bryant isn't the first member of his family to be leading the Tour Championship after 36 holes. Brad Bryant held the top spot midway through the 1995 event at Southern Hills. He finished in a tie for seventh.
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