Date: November 21, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Scott keeps himself in the hunt at Metro

Adam Scott rarely shows much emotion on the golf course, but when he pulled his second shot at the par-five sixth hole yesterday he let out an sharp exclamation that may well have been more commonly heard on the back streets of some dark and dangerous suburb, rather than on the revered fairways of the sandbelt.

It is a measure of the day he had that Scott need not have been so concerned.

The mid-iron shot, from almost 200 metres, flew the bunkers that guard the left side of the green and ended up on the putting surface, a little fortuitously. The Queenslander two-putted for birdie, and moved forward.

Two holes on, he hit two beautiful golf shots to the par-five eighth and rolled in the eagle putt and the Scott bandwagon was finally rolling.

Australia's top player had been subdued on Thursday, when he carded a 73. By the time he signed for a four-under-par 68 this afternoon he was back in the tournament, albeit spotting the second-round leader Michael Wright five shots going into the weekend. Over two rounds, this is nothing.

Scott is playing so-so by his high standards, even though he was caught in the worst of the winds on Thursday, and nobody should be surprised if he is not at full throttle. In the several months since he played the United States tour championship in Atlanta he has played but twice, in the HSBC Champions tournament in China and at the Japan Open under sponsor's obligations.

He has basically been on his break, with the majors more than four months away. He is playing the Emirates Australian Open at The Australian next week and the Australian PGA at Royal Pines a week after that, and then he will virtually disappear again until March.

Scott plays the old Tiger Woods schedule because he can afford to. He worked out in 2011 that he played better if he did not play too much. That's why he played just 15 tournaments overseas plus the three at home in Australia in the 2013 calendar year; it's far fewer than most professional golfers, many of whom will churn out 32 or so tournaments in a year.

The good news is that it keeps him fresh; the bad news is that at times, he has to deal with rust.

Step one this week was to make the cut, and the tournament organisers would have breathed more than one sigh of relief as he vaulted up the leaderboard today. Scott has drawn the crowds; there were excellent galleries at Metropolitan today and the weather was exceptionally kind.

Missed cuts are not his thing. Has not missed a weekend's play since May, 2012, the Byron Nelson Championship, and his streak is 44, the best on the US Tour by nine. It is a statistic that tells of an incredibly consistent, world class player.

Scott's day began with a beautiful iron shot to the first green that tracked on the flag. "GO HARD,'' he called as it landed and spun, leaving him six metres for birdie.. His best shot of the day was a short iron to the par-four third, hit from the left side of the fairway to a left-cut pin. Effectively, he had a landing area the size of your average dining room table but he pulled it off, stopping the ball less than a metre from the stick for a birdie.

He was much better through the middle of his round, with a three-metre eagle putt hitting the back of the cup at the par-five eighth, a short par-five that the pros treat disrespectfully. His only bad errors were a three-putt bogey at the par-five fourth, and at the 17th, where he short-sided himself in the right trap and could not get up and down to save par.

"It was much easier there today,'' he said afterward. "The course was really there to be had and I got off to a nice start through 10 holes, I was feeling really good but unfortunately things slowed up on the back nine. A couple of random wedge shots cost me my momentum for the day.

"But I've kind of moved up some positions on the board and I'm within shouting distance at least. Thirty-six holes is a lot of holes to be played and if I play a good 36, I think I'm in with a chance.''

The world No. 2 is trying to plot his way around Metropolitan, which is a treat to see. He hit just three drivers today, preferring his two-iron stingers off the tee. "The irons are running out to 300 yards, which is very much like an Open Championship,'' he said. "You have to be aware of that whereas in the States the ball tends to stop where it lands.''

But he sees a low score in there somewhere. "There's 64 or 63 out there without anything really special happening, I think. I'm sure someone on the weekend will do that. There are guys going to be teeing off early tomorrow with no pressure, and hopefully I'm one of those.''

You can bet on him running home hard this weekend. Which means it's going to be some fun at Metropolitan.