Scott in tough Open duel with McIl­roy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SYD­NEY: Overnight leader Adam Scott bat­tled through the wind and rain for a mixed bag of a round of two-un­der-par 70 to take a two-stroke lead over Rory McIl­roy at the half­way stage of the Aus­tralian Open yes­ter­day.

McIl­roy ben­e­fited from eas­ier early con­di­tions to post a nine- birdie 65 and join the world No 2 at the top of the leader­board on 10-un­der be­fore the Aussie had even teed off.

The US Mas­ters cham­pion lit up the Royal Syd­ney Golf Club with a course record 10un­der 62 in bright sun­shine on Thurs­day and ini­tially con­tin­ued in the same vein by pick­ing up shots at two of his first three holes yes­ter­day.

The stiff­en­ing wind and driv­ing rain took their toll, though, and five fur­ther birdies, three bo­geys and one dou­ble bo­gey later, Scott was sign­ing for his sec­ond round with the same two-shot cush­ion.

“It was a tough af­ter­noon, plenty of good stuff in there, but made a few mis­takes in the tricky con­di­tions,” said Scott. “At times, it was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and I think I held it to­gether pretty well.

“It was go­ing to be a day for hang­ing in. I made lots of birdies, but bo­geys were easy to come by if you were just slightly off and prob­a­bly most score­cards would have looked sim­i­lar this af­ter­noon.”

World No 6 McIl­roy’s grow­ing con­fi­dence at the tail-end of a dif­fi­cult sea­son was clearly ev­i­dent in his sec­ond round at the Royal Syd­ney, where he tight­ened up the putting that had left him seven shots be­hind Scott overnight.

“It feels good, I played well, putted much bet­ter to­day than I did yes­ter­day too, so that was a big pos­i­tive. I’m in a great po­si­tion go­ing into the weekend,” said McIl­roy.

If McIl­roy’s snaking 14footer for a birdie at the sixth was the putt of the day, Richard Green took the iron shot hon­ours for his hole-in-one at the same par-three.

The 42-year-old Aus­tralian also hit six birdies with two bo­geys in his early round of 66 to claim third place a shot be­hind McIl­roy, but there was no doubt­ing the high­light of his day.

“I think it was about 157 yards or some­thing like that, which was, I sup­pose, just with the con­di­tions; there’s a lit­tle bit of wind off the left and it suited the draw in there and just got it per­fect,” the Euro­pean Tour reg­u­lar said.

With all due re­spect to the pair, most eyes will prob­a­bly be on the group tee­ing off be­hind them and tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers will be hop­ing for a hotly con­tested duel be­tween the best two play­ers in the field.

Scott won the Aus­tralian PGA and Mas­ters in the past month and could hardly be in bet­ter form.

De­spite McIl­roy’s poor sea­son, though, he was cer­tainly not writ­ing off the for­mer world No 1 and twice Ma­jor cham­pion.

“Ob­vi­ously he’s one of the best play­ers in the world so I’m go­ing to have to bring my best game and try and match it with him,” Scott said. – Reuters

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