BETHESDA, Md. -- It’s amazing what can happen with a proper warm-up.
Adam Scott is 3 under through his first six holes here at Congressional Country Club, where he’s just three shots off the lead.
The fact that Scott is still playing is a minor miracle.
Thursday, the Aussie overslept when his alarm clock didn’t go off and raced from Georgetown -- a good 45 minutes away -- to Congressional and reached the tee box with only a couple of minutes to spare. Had he missed his tee time, he would have been disqualified.
Scott’s first swing of the day came when he got to the 10th tee. He made par but went double bogey-bogey the next two holes and shot 75 -- not terrible considering all he had to go through just to get here.
The rest of the week has gone much smoother for Scott, who followed with rounds of 67 and 70 before Sunday’s hot start.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the HP Byron Nelson Championship below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Matt Kuchar vs. Keegan Bradley||Last week's champ vs. last year's champ|
|Phil Mickelson vs. Ernie Els||Two World Golf Hall of Famers at Byron's place|
|Adam Scott vs. Jason Day||Two Aussies, two former champs in this event|
|Jhonattan Vegas vs. Ryan Palmer||Both have strong Texas ties, and both are bombers|
|Jason Dufner vs. John Huh||Both scored their first career wins earlier in 2012|
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Now that 36 holes are in the books at THE PLAYERS Championship, the PGATOUR.COM staff were asked to provide their predictions for the winner Sunday night at TPC Sawgrass. Here are our choices. Fill out the form below and let us know who you’re picking this weekend.
ZACH JOHNSON (8 under, co-leader)
"I'd usually be leery of a 36-hole frontrunner on the Stadium Course, but this co-leader looked awfully comfortable here Friday in his 66. His driver's not going to disappear over the weekend, and he's plenty steady enough on the greens." -- John Schwarb, Producer
KEVIN NA (8 under, co-leader)
"The last two PLAYERS champions have ranked first (Tim Clark, 2010) and second (K.J. Choi, 2011) in the field for the TOUR's primary putting statistic -- Strokes Gained-Putting. Guess who ranks first after 36 holes this week? All Na must do is stay out of trouble and stay calm. And yes, I know -- that's easier said than done, especially here." -- Mike McAllister, Managing Editor
“Last time Na held a share of the 36-hole lead was in Las Vegas, where he notched his first career win. Na is healthy, confident and ready for a statement victory.” – Amanda Balionis, host, PGA TOUR Today
ADAM SCOTT (6 under, two shots off lead)
BEN CURTIS (5 under, three shots off lead)
LUKE DONALD (3 under, five shots off lead)
LEE WESTWOOD (3 under, five shots off lead)
Adam Scott got rolling on the back nine Thursday with this 34-foot eagle putt on No. 11.
By Ward Clayton, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Adam Scott used terms like “fiery” and “spicy” to describe the speed of the greens at THE PLAYERS Championship on Thursday.
But that’s good news for the 31-year-old Australian. His 4-under-par 68 kept him within three strokes of first-round co-leaders Ian Poulter and Martin Laird. The day reminded him of 2004 when he captured THE PLAYERS Championship, a year he opened with his tournament-best 65.
“The year I won the greens were really quick,” Scott said. “But that was a whole different ballgam e then. I don’t know if I’ve seen them this quick since the change in 2007 (when the course was refurbished). They were really spicy today – maybe the quickest greens we’ve seen this year anywhere.”
Scott reached 6 under early in the back nine on Thursday with an eagle on the par-5 11 th and a birdie on the short par-4 12 th. Bogeys on the par-3 13 th (three-putt) and par-4 15 th (errant drive) brought him back to earth. A wide-swinging two-putt from approximately 60 feet above the hole on the par-3 17 th salvaged the round, a par he attributed mainly to an assist from veteran caddie Steve Williams.
“That was a good read from Steve,” Scott said. “We worked hard on the greens today. I’ve been reading the greens mostly this year and haven’t done the best job of it. Steve has been confirming all the lines for me here.”
Being that this is only Scott’s fifth start of the season gives him hope that he is finding his stride. His best finish was a tie for eighth at the Masters Tournament, concluded by a final-round 66 that included an ace on the par-3 16 th hole.
With THE PLAYERS Championship less than a month away, many notable players have committed to play at TPC Sawgrass.
Defending champion K.J. Choi will return in hopes of becoming the first player to successfully defend his title at the PGA TOUR’s signature event.
Adam Scott, the 2004 PLAYERS champ, will make his 11th PLAYERS start.
Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in the Official World Golf Ranking, have also committed to play. Westwood has three top-10 finishes in this event, while McIlroy will be looking to make the cut for the first time at TPC Sawgrass.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champ, will be making his fifth PLAYERS start.
THE PLAYERS Championship will be held the week of May 7-13. For more information, click here.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- With just nine rounds on the PGA TOUR under his belt this season, Adam Scott has played the fewest rounds of any TOUR player in the field coming into this week’s Masters. Not that he’s worried about it.
“I don’t think I need to play a lot to be competitive and be sharp,” Scott said Monday. “Being fresh is very important and getting enough time to prepare properly, especially for major championships, is important.”
To Scott’s point, last year he played just a dozen rounds on TOUR prior to the Masters. He then went on to tie for second.
One reason Scott didn’t make his TOUR debut until the Northern Trust Open in mid-February was because he had his tonsils out in the offseason.
He finished in a tie for 17th that week at Riviera, but he said his play at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship was a better indicator of where he’s at with his game as he enters the year’s first major. Scott tied for 13th at TPC Blue Monster at Doral.
“With a couple less putts on the weekend, I would have been right in the mix,” Scott said. “Seeing a good performance and the work I had put in before Doral pay off with a couple of good rounds was all I needed to know that my game was pretty much where it needs to be to compete.”
No Australian of course has ever won the Masters.
Last year, Scott nearly became the first with back-to-back 67s on the weekend. He finished two shots back, though, when Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win.
In coming up short, Scott did learn a few things about himself -- specifically that he has the game to win here. The Aussie arrived at the penultimate hole with a one-shot lead and parred each of the last two holes before Schwartzel went on his birdie blitz.
“Normally, that is pretty good,” Scott said. “What happened last year was extraordinary by Charl. I’m not disappointed with anything I did that day. Under the pressure, I played some really good golf coming in.”
What kind of party would they throw for Scott in Australia if he became the first Aussie to win here?
“I don’t know,” Scott said. “But I would throw a good one.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The last player to win the Masters in his first appearance was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. So when Jason Day arrived here last year, he asked any and every question he could think of to players who have been here before.
“If you can somehow get a practice round with them, that’s would probably be the best thing you can do,” Day said Monday. “I remember talking to Nick Faldo before I played the Masters last year and asking advice of him and then walking the course with some other players and just asking where they would hit shots on certain holes.”
It certainly helped. Day tied for the lowest score in Masters history with a 64 in the second round before finishing in a tie for second.
Day said he was so focused last year, especially being in contention all week, he could barely recall any of his rounds.
But he added there’s a danger in over-preparation, too.
“If you treat it like it’s the only tournament that matters, you’re putting so much pressure on your shoulders to a point where if you don’t perform, then you get down on yourself and you miss the cut and go home early,” Day said. “I just have to get in and just have the same preparation as I always do and just treat it like a normal tournament.”
For Webb Simpson, who is making his Masters debut this week, that actually might not be so difficult because he’s played here before.
Simpson first played Augusta National as a 12-year-old. “My eyes were pretty wide the whole day,” he said.
Especially when he got to the 18th hole.
The Scotty Cameron touring putters had just come out and Simpson spotted one in the golf shop at Augusta National. Simpson’s father told him if he birdied the final hole, he’d get him the putter.
Simpson hit driver, 3-wood to about 4 feet.
“The pin is front left, where it is on Sunday,” Simpson recalled. “I missed it.”
Simpson’s dad felt bad and bought him the putter anyway. He shot 80 that day and eight years later was eight shots better with an even-par 72.
That’s not the only experience Simpson has working for him, however. Simpson’s caddie, Paul Tesori, has caddied in 11 Masters tournaments.
Like most everything around here, passing down knowledge is tradition. The biggest piece of advice Tesori has given him so far? Where he can and can’t miss.
“It’s so hard to be precise on every hole,” said Simpson, who is playing in just his fourth career major. He tied for 14th at last year’s U.S. Open and 16th at the British Open before missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
“There are certain holes where you cannot get it up-and-down and you just have to know where you can chip the ball close and hopefully get it up-and-down for pars. I think that’s the most important thing, just knowing which pins to get after it and where to miss it.”
After 10 trips here, including a tie for second with Day a year ago, Adam Scott certainly knows where to hit it and where not to. Still, knowledge only goes so far.
“You can have all the knowledge you want, but you still have to execute good shots,” said Scott, who finished ninth in his first appearance here. “But I’ve definitely developed a sense of comfort over the years.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PGATOUR.COM -- Much of Justin Rose’s success here this week can be attributed to his putting. Through two rounds, he has 24 one-putts, which is best in the field. He’s also ninth in strokes gained-putting at 3.3 strokes gained per round.
And when Rose has missed the green, he’s made par or better 14 of 16 times, which ranks him third in the field in scrambling.
“I think [Friday] was the first time in a while I put it all together,” Rose said after the second round. “Today was the first day I hit some quality iron shots, drove it well and made putts.”
Adam Scott has been even better on the greens. The Aussie leads the field with 5.6 strokes gained-putting. He’s also converted a field-best nine putts from 10 feet. Four of those came late in Friday’s round when he birdied four of his final six holes to get to 10 under and within two of Bubba Watson’s lead.
Also, no one has converted more total footage of putts than Scott. Through two rounds, he’s made 251 feet of putts, which is 38 more feet than the next best player and 99 more feet than the field average.
“The putting stroke feels really good,” Scott said. “When it's like that, you need to take advantage of it, but you can also be a little safer with your shots in and not risk short-siding yourself, especially in the rough here.
“I did that well on the back nine, because I really needed some birdies to keep myself within touch of these guys posting low ones.”