5 Things: Scott puts foot on gas; Saunders shines; more
Friday, March 21, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. –– A day after shooting 10-under 62 to tie the tournament record, Adam Scott added to his lead Friday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The world's second-ranked player carded a 4-under 68 to pull ahead by seven shots entering the weekend at Bay Hill Cub and Lodge. Three players – Chesson Hadley, J.B. Holmes and Francesco Molinari – are tied for second at 7 under.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Friday's second round at Arnie's place:
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1. SCOTT AVOIDS LETDOWN, AGAIN: As impressive as Adam Scott's first round was at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his second round warrants praise in its own right. That's because Scott avoided a letdown Friday, and instead of falling back to the field, he pushed the pedal down more.
PHOTOS: Arnold Palmer Invitational, Round 2
View images from Round 2 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on Friday.
"When you've got momentum you've got to go with it," Scott said. "And 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 (under). 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."
Of course, if you look at the numbers, Scott's second-round 68 should come as little surprise.
The Australian's track record in rounds following a 62 is stout. He has shot 62 six times on Tour, including Thursday's first round. Five of those scores came in one of the first three rounds of a tournament, and all five have been at par or better.
Before Friday, the last time Scott shot 62 was at the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he followed with a 70 and eventually won the tournament. At the 2007 Memorial Tournament, he shot 72 after a second-round 62 and ended up T-5. In 2004, he backed up a 62 with a third-round 67 at the Booz Allen Classic, which he won. And at the 2003 Deutsche Bank Championship, he went 62-67-66 in the final three rounds en route to the title.
"It's not easy to do that, especially around a tough golf course," Scott said of backing up a low round with another low round.
Yet, he's done it time and again.
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2. GRANDSON'S GOT GAME: A year ago, Arnold Palmer passed on giving his grandson, Sam Saunders, a sponsor exemption into the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Saunders, who had missed the cut twice and not finished better than T-30 in four starts at Bay Hill, had to earn it first by playing last season on the Web.com Tour, his grandfather said.
A 150th-place finish on the 2013 Web.com Tour money list put Saunders in danger of losing his status, but he re-earned his card via Q-School in December, and already has a top-5 finish in three starts on the tour this season.
"I tell you what, I'm very appreciative to have a place to play out there," Saunders said.
He also got an invitation back to Bay Hill, and through two rounds this week, Saunders is making the most of it. He's 4 under after a second-round, 1-under 71 on Friday.
"You know, today, I was as comfortable or more comfortable than I've ever felt at this stage, in this arena," Saunders said. "I played the golf course today more like I play it on a week-in, week-out basis at home."
And while a lot of eyes have been on leader Adam Scott the past two days, Saunders has gotten some attention, too, including from his grandfather, who followed Saunders in his golf cart during each of the first two rounds.
"I saw him out there yesterday, I didn't see him today and yesterday I didn't even notice he was there," Saunders said. "There wasn't any noise. He's really considerate of myself and the other players, as well."
While Palmer watched his grandson from afar on the course, Saunders expects some advice off of it.
"I'll definitely talk to him later today, I'm sure, and we'll talk about the course and how it's playing out there," Saunders said. "I think he'll pretty much tell me to keep doing what I'm doing and go for it."
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3. SNEDS' SHORTSTICK STRUGGLES: Brandt Snedeker is tied for fifth at 6 under halfway through the tournament. His 1-under 71 Friday started strong, but fell flat late with no birdies and a bogey in his last eight holes.
"I hit a lot of quality golf shots today," Snedeker said. "It was tough today. I thought I did a great job of kind of steering away from pins and putting it in the middle of the green, giving myself a lot of chances.
"Back nine, I started hitting some bad putts and didn't take advantage of some of the easy holes I needed to."
Snedeker's flatstick has been troublesome at times this season. Considered one of the best putters on Tour, Snedeker ranked fourth, first and 10th in strokes gained-putting the past three seasons, respectively, but entered this week at Bay Hill ranked 71st.
Friday, he made 31 putts after a more Snedeker-like 25 on Thursday. He didn't make a putt outside of 8 feet, 3 inches in his second round
"I was a little too defensive today," Snedeker said. "That's probably something I'll take away from this round for tomorrow. I was so afraid of running them 3, 4 and 5 feet by; it's easy to do. I left a lot of putts short and a lot of putts I hit short, I didn't see the line."
Snedeker will have to be more aggressive this weekend if he wants to have any chance at catching the red-hot Scott, although it "seems like an awfully special week if you can get close to him," Snedeker said.
A more realistic goal this week might be Snedeker's first top 10 of the season – he has none in nine starts this season. Of course, if he has another bad round with the putter, even that will be tough to achieve.
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4. CUT CASUALTIES: Rickie Fowler tied for third a year ago at Bay Hill and in two starts prior to that had yet to miss the cut.
By round's end Friday, 77 players had made it into the weekend at 2 over. Fowler, at 5 over, was not one of them.
A second-round, 4-over 76 ended Fowler's hopes of a second straight high finish at the API. It also gave him his fourth missed cut in 10 starts this season on Tour.
Other notables to miss the cut included Justin Rose, who shot 79 Friday to finish at 6 over; amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick, who followed a first-round 71 with a second-round 81; and Lee Westwood, who finished at 7 over to miss just his second cut in 12 API starts.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Keegan Bradley totaled 25 putts Friday and carded the round of the day, a 5-under 67, to move to 6 under overall. . . . Zach Olsen, a freshman at Oklahoma State, shot 71 Friday to make the cut at even par. Olsen is fifth in the field in strokes gained-putting (2.387). . . . Ryo Ishikawa and John Merrick, who shared second place after Round 1, each shot 2-over 74 to fall to 5 under. . . . The Arnold Palmer Invitational has had just four international-born winners in its history – South African Ernie Els (1998, 2010), Australian Rod Pampling (2006), Fijian Vijay Singh (2007) and Scot Martin Laird (2011). . . . Jeff Overton (wrist) and Rory Sabbatini (pinched nerve) both withdrew mid-round on Friday.