Blue Mon­ster tests field as Scott leads

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - @ Steve_ DiMeglio USA TO­DAY Sports

DO­RAL, FLA. It’s called the Blue Mon­ster for a rea­son.

The 18 holes at Trump Na­tional Do­ral, home to the World Golf Cham­pi­onships-Cadil­lac Cham­pi­onship, are an invit­ing sort, with the sooth­ing lakes, emer­ald fair­ways and sway­ing palm trees form­ing an idyl­lic set­ting. At other times, the Blue Mon­ster is as invit­ing as a dark al­ley.

No mat­ter how well things are go­ing around this place, the Blue Mon­ster, where wa­ter comes into play on 10 holes and the gnarly rough drives the play­ers nuts on ev­ery hole, will rear its ugly head.

Just ask Rickie Fowler, who was in con­tention in Fri­day’s se­cond round be­fore dump­ing tee shots into the wa­ter on con­sec­u­tive holes.

Or ask Mar­cus Fraser, who had a share of the lead af­ter 18 holes but shot 77 in the se­cond round.

Phil Mick­el­son was rolling af­ter four con­sec­u­tive birdies on his front nine and had a two- shot lead. Then a three- putt on the 13th led to a bo­gey, and a rinsed tee shot on the 15th led to a dou­ble and a 40 on his back nine that knocked him out of the lead.

“All of them,” Bubba Wat­son said when asked what tee shots con­cern him the most. “Be­ing dead hon­est. If you want me to go through my round, I can tell you my thoughts. And you’ll laugh, be­cause you’ll be like, gosh, you’re a head case.

“On 17, I don’t know how you hit that fair­way. On 10, if I cut it, be­cause I like to cut the ball, if I over- cut it, it’s in the wa­ter. On 11, seems like there’s no fair­way, it’s all bunker. On 12, you’ve got trou­ble over here if I pull it and you’ve got wa­ter if I overs lice it. You want me to keep go­ing?” No, we get the point. Even de­fend­ing cham­pion Dustin John­son, who tamed the Mon­ster with a bo­geyfree, 8- un­der- par 64 in the se­cond round, gave the course his re­spect in post- round in­ter­views. “I think the golf course is fan­tas­tic. It’s in great shape. The greens are per­fect. But it’s not an easy golf course,” John­son said. “This year, the greens are a hair softer than they have been the last two years, so it’s play­ing a cou­ple shots eas­ier. Maybe. But it’s still tough. You’ve still got to drive it in the fair­way and you’ve still got to hit it on the greens. You can’t take it easy any­where out here.”

At times, Adam Scott made it look easy. Last week­end’s win­ner in the Honda Clas­sic took the half­way lead with a 66 to get to 10 un­der, two shots clear of John­son and Rory McIl­roy, who putted ex­tremely well with his new left- hand low grip and shot 65. Danny Wil­lett ( 69) is an­other shot back, and Wat­son ( 69) is tied with Charley Hoff­man ( 70) at 6 un­der.

“I think over­all, it was just a lot of good stuff,” Scott said. “Enough qual­ity shots and enough qual­ity putts to negate a cou­ple of mis­takes out there. ... So I’m glad there was enough of the good stuff to keep me up on top and kind of set­ting the pace af­ter half­way.”

McIl­roy needed just 23 putts. “I just needed to play a round with­out as many mis­takes,” he said.

World No. 1 Jor­dan Spi­eth couldn’t get any mo­men­tum en route to four birdies and four bo­geys and a 72.


Adam Scott made his way around the TPC BlueMon­ster in 6- un­der- par 66 at Trump Na­tional Doral to take the lead af­ter the sec­ond round.

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