AKRON, Ohio – Call it a coincidence or call it a reflection of the current state of the game. Either way, facts are facts.
There are four players tied for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational lead entering the weekend and at age 31, Adam Scott is the oldest of the quartet – by three years.
In a season that has already seen Rory McIlroy win the U.S. Open at 22, there have been a dozen different twenty-somethings who have claimed PGA Tour titles, tying last year’s total as the second-most since 2000.
Tied with Scott is one of those players – Keegan Bradley, who won the Byron Nelson Championship – plus another who already owns a career victory in Ryan Moore and a third in Rickie Fowler who looks poised to win not only soon, but often.
That foursome shares the lead at Firestone Country Club, each at 8 under through 36 holes. Of course, they each took different journeys to the top of the leaderboard.
The elder statesman of the four, Scott followed an opening-round 62 with an even-par 70 on Friday, posting just two birdies against two bogeys.
“Obviously I had a lot of momentum yesterday and seemed to find my rhythm off the tee and into the greens and on the greens,” he said. “But today was a little tougher. I started really solid, but couldn't make anything on my first nine. And then I just hung a couple drives out to the right, so I was in the rough and scrambling a little bit coming in. But it was fairly solid golf, other than that.”
Bradley put on a second-round ball-striking display, hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation in shooting a bogey-free 65. And he couldn’t have been happier about it.
“I played a great round of golf today,” he maintained. “It was really fun. It’s great to be out here at Firestone in the middle of contention at this tournament. Today was one of the more fun days of my career, for sure.”
“Fun” may not be how Fowler described his round, even if it was the most eventful of anyone in the field. Finishing on the course’s back nine, he didn’t card a single par on his final eight holes, instead making an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys en route to a 6-under 64 – the low round of the day.
“It was kind of just go, stop for a second, go, stop for a second,” Fowler said. “But it's fun. It's always nice to know that making a lot of birdies is a good thing. There's always something good to take out of it. I just happened to make a couple of bad swings and mistakes there that cost me a couple strokes, but hopefully we'll set those aside for the weekend and move on.”
Moore enjoyed what can best be described as a triple bounce back in the middle of his round, finishing his front nine with three consecutive bogeys, only to begin his back nine with three consecutive birdies. In all, he carded seven birdies on the day, finishing with a second straight 66.
“This is where you want to be obviously going into the weekend,” he explained. “Just shooting a couple solid 4 under rounds of golf where I kind of fought through a little early frustration today and still hung in there and had a good back side. And yesterday was just a good, solid all-around day. Kind of doing it two different ways, but two really good solid rounds of golf are a really good way to start off a tournament.”
The four co-leaders may be a youthful group, but as we’ve seen so many times this season, youth can often prevail on the biggest of stages.