Scott fires 67, one off Open Championship lead

Adam Scott watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club.

Adam Scott watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England - Has Adam Scott’s time come?

Maybe a change of philosophy and an equipment change are finally going to deliver the major the Australian has promised for so long.

Scott trails Brandt Snedeker by a shot heading into the third round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham &: St. Annes Golf Club after a second round, 3-under 67 moved him to 9 under.

The Australian began the second round on 6 under and dropped just one shot, a bogey at the par-4 third hole – where he has registered two of his three bogeys through 36 holes – when he missed a 20-foot putt for par. However, he fought back with four birdies in the last 15 holes to enter the weekend with a chance to win his first major or, as we say over here, break his major duck.

There was a time when it seemed ludicrous that Scott would reach the age of 32 without a major to his name. With one of the best swings in the game, it seemed a certainty he’d win multiple majors before his 30th birthday.

There was one thing holding him back: the shortest putter in his bag. As good as Scott’s long game was, his putting stroke just didn’t come close.

Until now.

The eight-time PGA Tour winner has resurrected his major ambitions thanks to switching putters. Now the tool he uses on the greens is the longest club in his bag. He’s one of the converts to the long putter.

“It’s brought more consistency to my putting,” Scott said. “My putting with the short putter was so hot and cold; it was more often cold than hot. It was so very, very frustrating to play well and get nothing out of a round. I putt much more consistently with it, which has a really positive effect on the rest of my game. It takes a little pressure off.”

There was no real pressure on Scott’s game during the second round. He looked pretty much in control.

“I’m feeling comfortable because I’m hitting the ball well and things are under control. It’s not a fluke that I’m up there (near the top of the leaderboard).”

Scott’s last win came in the last year’s WGC–Bridgestone Invitational. The Australian won by four shots over Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler. The ominous sign for the rest of the field here at Royal Lytham is that he’s in a better frame of mind than he was then.

“Things have felt better for me this week leading in,” Scott said. “I felt my game was good. When I went to Bridgestone last year, I was a little shaky.”

Scott’s best Open Championship finish from 12 appearances is T-8 in 2006. He has seven top 10s in majors, including second in last year’s Masters and third in the 2006 PGA Championship. He’s hoping a new philosophy has helped his major quest.

Scott has cut his schedule this year to help him focus on the only tournaments that really matter.

“It wasn't about playing less events. It was about preparing a little differently and more effectively for majors,” he said. “I've had to cut out a couple of events. It's not about not wanting to compete or not being at those events. It's just purely about having a little more focus on the major tournaments. I think it's been effective so far.

“Last year certainly my results were better in the majors, and this year, too, already. So I feel as if that's putting me in a better frame of mind coming into these things and confidence-wise.”

Scott has former Tiger Woods caddie Steve Williams on the bag. Williams caused controversy last year when he claimed winning with Scott was his best experience in golf, this from a man who won 13 majors with Woods.

Woods is just three behind Scott, and the pair could find themselves in the final two-ball on Sunday. That would thrill the British tabloids.

A head-to-head battle between Scott and Woods would be perfect symmetry since Scott’s swing has been so often compared with Woods’ action. (They shared the same coach at one time in Butch Harmon.)

There are many questions hanging over Royal Lytham with 36 holes to go. Among them is Adam Scott’s ability to close the deal.

Are all the stars aligned to allow Scott to fulfill his destiny?

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