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  • Scott opens up big lead at Bay Hill, is halfway to No. 1

  • Scott is 14 under and leads by seven shots through two rounds at Bay Hill. (Greenwood/Getty Images) Scott is 14 under and leads by seven shots through two rounds at Bay Hill. (Greenwood/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Adam Scott shot a 4-under 68 Friday to open up a seven-stroke lead entering the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.

It's the largest 36-hole lead in tournament history, surpassing the four-stroke advantage of Paul Azinger in 1988 and Tiger Woods in 2000.

Should Scott hold on for the next two days and win he would eclipse Woods again and move to No. 1 in the world for the first time in his career.

Because of the sliding scale in the Official World Golf Rankings and with neither Scott nor Woods playing again until the Masters, the Aussie wouldn't officially reach the top for two more weeks.

It's just semantics. The way he has played through two rounds he has looked every bit the best player in the world.

Not that Scott is getting ahead of himself.

"We're only halfway," he said. "Seven shots over two days is not enough. I don't think you can ever be leading by enough.

"I've got to take in the attitude of starting over again and trying to play a really hard 36 holes. And hopefully if I can keep striking the ball like I am I'll give myself enough chances for birdie and hopefully more birdies than bogeys."

He certainly did that Friday, making five birdies in an eight-hole stretch in the middle of his round to distance himself from the field.

J.B. Holmes, Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari are tied for second at 7 under, while five others, including Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker are another stroke back.

A victory here for Scott would be important for other reasons, too, as he gets set to defend his Masters title in three weeks.

"It would be exactly what I need," he said. "The confidence you can take out of a win and playing some good shots when it counts is huge. And the feeling of being in contention close to a major can really count for a lot when or if you do get in contention at the major."

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