Date: November 20, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes, Huntingdale

Pack chasing Scott at Huntingdale

Some spectacular golf was played at Huntingdale early in round two, much of it lost in the afternoon storylines revolving around Adam Scott.

But with Scott falling back to the field late in the afternoon, it would pay not to write off the chances of the four men who shot 66 or better.

West Australian Brett Rumford poured in seven unblemished birdies in a superb 64; American George McNeill canned an eagle chip on his last hole for a 66; hometown prodigy Nathan Holman scrambled a great bogey up the last to preserve a 66 of his own; and Masters specialist Matty Guyatt’s was the best of the afternoon bunch.

Rumford, only now beginning to find strength after a life-threatening health scare earlier this year, made four birdies in his closing five holes to rocket up the leaderboard.

“My body is feeling great. I've been doing a lot of good work away from the golf course and … it's been feeling fantastic,” the recent WA PGA champion said.

“Obviously any time you play well, your adrenaline is going and it's going to mask any effect.”

McNeill, 40 but in his first trip to Australia, is a dual winner on the US PGA Tour and showed more than glimpses of that form with a birdie-birdie-par-eagle finish from holes 6-9.

His two on the ninth from 134m out in a fairway bunker the icing on a sweet cake.

“I had not a very good angle and it's downwind … and (Melbourne caddie) Ernie (Rose) says, `Take it right at it, or miss it to the right’,” McNeill said.

“I hit it right at it. It was fortunate to go in, (but) that's kind of pot luck.”

Holman, 24, opened in a blaze with five birdies in eight holes, was delighted to be back in the mix in a tournament he led two years ago in one of his first pro outings before fading in the glare of the final-round spotlight.

“I got to play with Adam who was one or two in the world at that stage and Matt Kuchar on the Sunday, and basically had the tournament won up until the 18th,” the Golf Australia rookie pro said.

“To see how they handled themselves and went about it, for a guy that it was my third or fourth professional event as a pro, you learn a lot from that.”

Further to Holman’s progress, after coming off a spectacular birdie on the tough 17th to momentarily join the party at six under, the Melburnian found deep trouble left off the 18th tee.

But he said those lessons learnt had helped him minimise the damage and stay in touch.

“(I was) able to think about it for a minute and get it back into play and make that five (when) I could make a six there.

“With all that work that you did to get to where you were, you're kind of pretty angry about it, but … yeah, probably maturity and being around competition a bit more now, you get used to that (and take your medicine).”

Guyatt, who changed his shoes midway through his round as part of his ongoing plantar fascia battles, spent time icing his feet on Thursday night.

But the 2012 Masters surprise packet said the glory of achieving a childhood dream drove him on.

"As a  kid growing up all I wanted to do was play the Masters at Huntingdale, memories etched in my mind of Greg Norman and great shots into the last, Brad Hughes and Craig Spence," he said.
"But by the time I got to play the Masters it had moved. I said to my wife a couple of weeks ago I couldn't wait to play."

Guyatt said he was a completely different player to the one struck by all the attention in 2012, and had a greater mental ability to copewith a push for victory.
"I have learned from that, or I hope I have. We have changed a lot of things since, It's nice to be back in that position and back near the top," he said.

Others to move into the mix early in round two include Tasmanian Mathew Goggin (70) and Queenslander John Senden (68) to join Holman at five under.