Scott dominating at Bay Hill in Woods-like fashion


ORLANDO, Fla. – We’ve seen this one before.

A world-class player amasses an early lead. His closest challengers spin in neutral, or even begin to fall back.

He protects his lead through conservative strategy, but his advantage continues to build, birdie by birdie, until the field is left in his wake.

A familiar scenario, but with a rare twist: It’s playing out with Tiger Woods on the couch at home.

Friday, like Thursday, was Adam Scott’s day, and it appears likely that this will be Adam Scott’s week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Beginning the day with a three-shot advantage after an opening 62, Scott carded a 4-under 68 at Bay Hill on a day when low scores were hard to come by. At 14 under par, he takes a seven-shot lead into the weekend as he closes in on the top spot in the world rankings.

“I think it was a pretty good way to back up a low round,” Scott said. “It’s not easy to do that, especially around a tough course.”

Others were more effusive in their assessments of Scott’s play.

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“He's going to be a tough guy to catch, guy that hits it as good as he does and seems to have a complete game like he has,” said Brandt Snedeker,  who is eight shots back after a Friday 71. “And the way he's playing now he's not going to come backwards. Seems like an awfully special week if you can get close to him.”

Bay Hill has hosted some routs over the past 15 years, but each has been authored by Woods, an eight-time champion here. Woods won by four shots in 2000 and 2002, cleared the field by five in 2012 and won by a whopping 11 shots in 2003.

That margin may seem a little less whopping by the time Scott gets done this week. The Aussie has spent the past two days channeling the game plan of the current world No. 1, whom he will replace atop the rankings next month if he wins this week.

While Scott’s putter cooled somewhat after his course record-tying effort Thursday, he still made enough putts coming home to obliterate the tournament record for a 36-hole lead, which had been four shots.

“Yesterday was just one of those days where everything fell into place for me,” Scott said. “Today I just stayed patient on those holes where I didn’t do as well yesterday and felt like if you keep playing this well and hitting good shots, you’re going to create a few opportunities.”

Scott birdied No. 9 to make the turn in 1 under, knocking in a 12-foot putt that he later said was a key to his round. Birdies followed on Nos. 11, 12, 15 and 16, ballooning his lead to eight shots at one point.

Taking another page out of a Woods narrative, Scott benefited from the futility of his nearest competitors. Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick teed off at 7 under, within three shots of Scott. Both carded 2-over 74s.

With winds picking up in the afternoon, no one was able to make a run at Scott. In fact, the Aussie’s 68 was bettered only by Keegan Bradley, whose 67 hoisted him 35 spots into a tie for fifth.

Scott’s seven-shot cushion through 36 holes is the third-largest on the PGA Tour since 1970, and the largest since Jose Maria Olazabal carried a nine-shot edge into the weekend at Firestone in 1990. Despite the head start, Scott remains cautious.

“I think we’re only halfway,” he said. “Seven shots over two days is not enough. I don’t think you can ever be enough (in the) lead, to be honest.”

Scott is no stranger to sizeable advantages – five of his 10 PGA Tour wins have been by three strokes or more. He indicated he has no interest in protecting the lead, just increasing it.

“I think when you’ve got momentum, you’ve got to go with it,” he said. “Whether it’s in your round when you’re getting hot and you’re 6 under, you’ve got to think that’s going to be a day when you can push it to 10. And then when you come out the next day, you’ve got to try to get your foot on the gas as well. You never know when the momentum is going to run out.”

There’s still plenty of golf to play, but through two rounds, Adam Scott has taken the Tiger Woods script and made it his own.