Thursday at the Emirates Australian Open was a walk in the park for Adam Scott. He shot 62 without a blemish on the card. It was yet another of his increasingly frequent “ho-hum” rounds and just as frequently delivered while others were finding the game challenging.
Friday, he appeared to be off to the races again getting to 2-under through three holes. And then he appeared to be mortal after all, going double bogey, par, bogey. That dropped him to 9-under and one stroke behind Rory McIlroy who was in the clubhouse after his own encouraging 7-under 65. Encouraging because it included two bogeys; you could just sense his relief in his post-round interview that he played well enough to make nine birdies.
But Scott’s hiccups came in the middle of blustery winds and rain showers that swept across the Royal Sydney Golf Club for an hour or so. And then he got back in the groove and made birdies at 7, 8, 12 and 13. And then bogey on 16 and a bounce-back birdie on 17.
He’s playing so well, is in such command of his game, that when he made the inevitable mistake of blocking his 2-iron tee shot right on 18, he merely hoisted his approach shot up over the trees, flew it into the bank behind the pin and the ball rolled gently onto the green closer to the hole. He didn’t make the putt — leaving him with a two-stroke lead over Saturday’s playing partner, McIlroy — but he had to have been satisfied to have so effortlessly extricated himself from trouble.
In a side note, Kevin Streelman played very well last week in the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne. He and Matt Kuchar finished 2nd in the team competition and he finished 8th in the singles. He was pretty excited after that because he planned to stay an extra week and was on his way to Sydney to play in the Open.
After a respectable 2-under 70 paired with Scott and Jason Day in the first round, he was thrown for a loop. He had some discomfort in his eye and the doctor told him he had a “massive” — his word — eye infection. He tried to play anyway, but had to withdraw with eye pain after just four holes and get himself to the hospital. He took the time for a quick standup interview out on the course — very professional — and seemed as upset by the fact that he’d never withdrawn from a tournament before as he was his eye pain.
Jason Day was not the Jason Day who won the World Cup of Golf singles last week. He shot 2-under Thursday and came back with a 2-over Friday to finish at even par. The entire field hasn’t finished at this writing, but it looks like he will make the cut by just one and live to fight another day…no pun intended.
The field is heavily weighted with Aussie players — no surprise there — but for all the players we don’t know, there is the familiar cadre of players who now live in the United States, play the PGA Tour and made the pilgrimage to play in their national championship: John Senden, Geoff Ogilvy, Aron Baddeley, Stuart Appleby, et al. One of the announcers claimed that back in the 70s, the Australian Open was considered the fifth major. Times have changed, but the Aussies still treat their championship with the same reverence that we treat the U.S. Open.
The Golf Channel has the broadcast at 8 PM Eastern.