Scott, Day: A perfect Presidents Cup combo
ATLANTA – White hats. White shirts. Dark slacks. Tall, proud walks. Aussie heritage.
Oh, and did we mention superb golf games?
Yes, Adam Scott and Jason Day seemed to mirror each other as they patrolled the fairways at East Lake Golf Club in the second round of the Tour Championship. The fact that their scores – 5-under 65s to get into the halfway lead at 8 under for Scott; 67 for 6 under and a share of third for Day – look so similar can be nothing but good news for Greg Norman.
That’s because the International Team captain seemingly has a pairing to build around come Presidents Cup time in two months.
Oh, and in case the Shark hasn’t put that team up on the chalkboard, he might be interested in what Day and Scott think about it.
“All of us have been talking about it out there,” Day said. “We’re very pumped for the Presidents Cup. I’ve known Scottie since I was 15, so we’re pretty good mates.”
It appears that Scott is a card-carrying member of the Day Fan Club.
“I love the way Jason goes about his business out here. He handles himself beautifully, and I’ve told how much I think of his game,” Scott said.
At 31, Scott can kid about showing the 23-year-old Day that “the old guys still have a little bit of something, too.” But the truth is, both Aussies have been playing at a high level for the bulk of 2011, a fact that has brought them together on a few occasions. On a memorable Sunday at Augusta, Scott (67) and Day (68) were in a late pairing and made spirited runs at the green jacket before settling for a share of second. They were paired together in Rounds 1 and 2 of The Barclays a few weeks ago and in warm, sultry weather at East Lake, they showed off for each other yet again.
Advantage early, Day. By a mile.
“He was embarrassing me,” Scott said after starting with bogeys on three of his first five holes to fall onto the second page of the leaderboard - or maybe the third. The point is, Scott was 1 under for the tournament, and he only had to look as far as Day (5 under) to see that he had his work cut out for him.
Bogey-free and 7 under for the next 13 holes sort of took care of that problem for Scott.
“Great finish for the day,” Scott said. “I was happy with that after a poor start.”
When Scott leapfrogged a crowded leaderboard to get into the penthouse with a birdies at 17 and 18 for a second straight day, seemingly the happiest player in the post-round goodwill was Day. It smacks to the camaraderie that exists between the young Aussies, which comes with a heavy dose of friendly competition.
“I’m in front and then he comes back and then he’s in front and I want to come back,” Day said. “It does fire you up.”
They entered the week 10th (Day) and 19th (Scott), respectively, in the FedEx Cup playoff standings; seventh (Day) and 10th (Scott) in the world order; and ninth (Day) and 12th (Scott) in money. Advantage, Day?
Perhaps not, because in the column where it matters most – wins – Scott has one, Day none. Advantage, Scott?
“At the end of the day, that’s how we measure ourselves, by winning,” Scott said, though he stopped short of giving himself credit for a better season than his countryman. He did note, however, that Day’s 2011 season – nine top 10s and only three missed cuts in 20 starts – while it earns high grades for consistency, reminds him of 2006.
“I piled up the top 10s that year coming into the Tour Championship (nine in 18 starts), but hadn’t won. Then I won here, and it made my season. I’m sure Jason is frustrated by not winning this year, but that’s why this week is such a big deal,” Scott said. “He could win and it will make his season.”
Day, who broke through for his first PGA Tour win in his third season a year ago, has developed into a weekly force, and it’s almost ho-hum material to see his name floating near the top of a leaderboard. But in Scott, who has won at least once in eight of his nine years on the PGA Tour (yes, we’re counting 2005 and the “unofficial” 36-hole triumph at Riviera), Day sees a role model.
“It’s been one of my goals to win each year, and right now (this week), I’d like to win,” Day said.
He’ not alone, however, because “both of us want to win desperately this week,” Scott said.
To that quest, there are still two days to go.
After that, they’re free to think partnerships for the Presidents Cup before the home fans in Australia.