ATLANTA – One of the day’s best turnarounds was authored by Adam Scott. When he pulled his tee shot into the water at the par-3 sixth, the Aussie made his second consecutive bogey and was 2 over.
But he was not in panic mode.
“I was playing fine, and obviously 5 and 6 are tough holes and I made a couple of bad swings,” said Scott, who won the 2006 Tour Championship, the last year before it became the FedEx Cup finale.
Staying patient, Scott went back to his bread-and-butter, fairways and greens, “just giving myself some opportunities,” and with birdies at the eighth, 10th, 14th and 15th, he had climbed the leaderboard into a share of seventh, at 2-under 68.
“I’ve been playing really lovely,” Scott said, “and this is a tournament where four rounds in the 60s will go a long way.”
He is spot-on with that assessment, which is another way of saying that this week won’t be a repeat of the Deutsche Bank Championship or BMW Championship, both of which were won with 20-under scores by Rory McIlroy. Scott at the Deutsche Bank Championship was in the 60s all four rounds, but finished just T-7.
At last year’s Tour Championship at East Lake, only one player went into the 60s all four days: Bill Haas, the eventual winner.
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ROBERTS SIDELINED: Ernie Els has worked his way through the playoffs with caddie Ricci Roberts on the bag, but this week Roberts is not in Atlanta. Instead, Els’ longtime looper is scheduled to meet with doctors in London on Friday to determine if he needs to have stents put into two arteries in his left leg to relieve blockage that has caused blood clots.
Roberts started having problems outside Boston at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second playoff event. The pain continued once he arrived in Indianapolis for the BMW Championship. He went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with blood clots.
Prescribed anticoagulants, Roberts was able to finish the tournament on Els’ bag, but while the clots dissipated, Roberts still was not feeling 100 percent.
“I could see he was already struggling,” Els said. “I said to him then (at Deutsche Bank), please, go get your bloody health sorted out. We all think we can walk it off, but it really got bad.”
Els has a friend, Kevin Bogrette, on the bag this week.
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CLOSE TO GREAT: Robert Garrigus is making his first visit to East Lake and the Tour Championship and for 17 holes, the inaugural tour of Bobby Jones’ boyhood course was a pleasant one, as he sprinkled in five birdies. But one hole cost him dearly. Garrigus made triple bogey on the par-3 sixth hole, and that made the difference between potentially leading the tournament (at 5 under) and a tie for seventh at 2 under.
“You hit your first tee shot, you’re like, OK, I just made $130,000 (last-place money),” Garrigus said jokingly. “I can turn around right now and go back home.”
In his practice rounds, Garrigus thought that East Lake set up perfectly for him. For 17 of his 18 holes, he was right.
The triple on the difficult sixth hole, which plays 209 yards over water, happened when Garrigus conceded he fell asleep. After his 6-iron banked into the water, Garrigus then hit a lob wedge from the drop area that landed near the hole and scooted 30 feet past.
The most disappointing part of the triple was three-putting.
“First three‑putt I’ve had with that new putter,” Garrigus said of a standard-length putter he put in play at Deutsche Bank.
Garrigus, who was T-4 at the BMW Championship two weeks ago, likes his chances at East Lake.
“The tee shots set up to my eye,” the long-hitting Garrigus said, “I can hit a little baby draw out there, and I don’t really have to hit many cuts. This course is solid from tee to green, and the greens are super fast, and it’s kind of nice with the smaller putter I can ‘feel’ it around. I’m looking forward to the next three days.”
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SHORT SHOTS: In his 11th round of the playoffs, Hunter Mahan recorded just his second sub-par score, a 2-under 68. (He also shot 3-under 68 in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.) . . . Nick Watney slammed his tee ball miles right at the par-4 fifth, made triple bogey and wound up with the day’s highest score, a 5-over 75. . . Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker, each of whom posted 67, had the only bogey-free rounds . . . Toughest hole of the day Thursday was the 520-yard fifth (4.40). Sergio Garcia made the only birdie there, hitting an approach to 2 feet from 197 yards. Garcia shot 69. . . . East Lake’s uphill, par-3 18th hole gets most of the attention, but it yielded five more birdies than the 197-yard 11th, where Ernie Els made the lone birdie. . . . If your Day 1 leaderboard stood unchanged until Sunday evening, your FedEx Cup finishers, in order: 1. Tiger Woods; 2. Rory McIlroy; 3. Justin Rose; 4. Nick Watney; 5. Phil Mickelson.