Date: November 29, 2013
Author: Martin Blake at Royal Sydney Golf Club

Wrap: Scott, McIlroy ready to rumble in jungle

Call it the rumble in the (Royal Sydney) jungle. They had their weigh-in over the past two days and now the title fight can go ahead. Rory McIlroy responded to Adam Scott&aposs opening day 62 with a sweet 65 at Royal Sydney today, posting his score as Scott stood on the elevated first tee and bombed his drive on to the green, 274 metres ahead and below him. The Australian went around in two-under 70 and now they are clear at the top of the Emirates Australian Open leaderboard, a promoter&aposs dream. The world No. 2 and the world No. 6 are set for a weekend showdown that takes the game back to the days of Norman and Faldo, Nicklaus and Player. Royal Sydney has drawn the best players to the top, Scott leading by two at 12-under through two rounds. McIlroy was wonderful today, taking advantage of the better early-morning conditions, just as Scott had done on Thursday. The Northern Irishman started with a birdie and would have eight for the day. His putting was pristine. “As seven-unders go, I think it was a pretty comfortable one,&apos&apos he said. “I don&apost think I did anything really spectacular out there.&apos&apos He had carded 69 on Thursday in the afternoon winds, battling frustration but ultimately winning. Today, he rated his performance in that opening round as significant, since he had never let it get away from him. “It would have been very easy for me to get frustrated yesterday, and I was getting a little frustrated, because I bogeyed 10 and 11 to go back to even par and I&aposm thinking to myself: &aposI&aposm 10 behind, not just 10 behind anyone, I&aposm 10 behind Scotty&apos. I think it was big. I played my last seven holes three-under par.&apos&apos Scott had a stop-start day, beginning with a thunderclap drive to the first for a two-putt birdie, and sending roars around the course when he chipped in at the third for another, before a couple of poor shots bit him. At the par-four fourth he short-sided himself next to the green and his flop shot spun back down the bank. He ended with a double bogey six then compounded the issue at the fifth when he was short of the green in regulation and missed a two-metre putt for par. The conditions changed dramatically even as he played, with what Scott called “a five-club wind at for a few holes&apos&apos, and he would hit just five fairways. But the 33-year-old found his mojo quickly aftergiving back three shots with five more birdies coming in. After a crowd-pleasing approach over the pin at 18, he two-putted for a 70. “It was a tough afternoon,&apos&apos he said. “There was plenty of good stuff in there but I made a few mistakes in the tricky conditions. Overall it was pretty good. It was, at times, really difficult, and I think I held it together pretty well.&apos&apos Victoria&aposs Richard Green, who had a hole-in-one in his 66, is third at nine-under. Sydneysider Matthew Jones, a runner-up in the 2010 Open, is a further shot back after a 68 today. World No. 11 Jason Day had to battle but he fought hard to reach the weekend at even-par, 12 shots back from Scott. Western Australian amateur Brady Watt, 22, a member of Golf Australia&aposs national squad, put in another outstanding performance with a 70 to be tied-fifth at six-under par. Another squad member, 15-year-old Ryan Ruffels, also made the cut. American Kevin Streelman withdrew after four holes yesterday because of an eye infection. He was even-par for the tournament at the time, and he departed with regret. “I woke up this morning and something wasn t right in my eye,&apos&apos he said. “The doctor said it was pretty badly infected.&apos&apos But the stage has been cleared for Scott and McIlroy. “It will be a great atmosphere if it happens,&apos&apos said McIlroy. “I mean it would be something I&aposd look forward to. He&aposs coming home as Masters champion, won two of his last three events and is arguably the best player in the world this year. It will be exciting, definitely if we&aposre paired over the weekend.&apos&apos Scott said he had rarely played with McIlroy this year, but he relished the opportunity as he continues his quest for the triple crown of Australian tournaments. “Obviously he (McIlroy) is one of the best players in the world, so I&aposm going to have to bring my best game and try and match it with him.&apos&aposA