13 Nov 2020 | Professional golf |
Scott charge well worth the wait
by Mark Hayes
He’d waited seven months, so another three hours wasn’t going to faze Adam Scott.
The Australian No.1 looked every bit the player who powered to Masters victory in 2013 in reaching four under when play was called off for bad light as he stood over another birdie putt on the 11th hole.
Scott’s charge put him within three of Paul Casey’s clubhouse lead, still with seven first-round holes – and hopefully one putt – to play when play resumes tomorrow.
That interruption came courtesy of a wild deluge of rain in the first hour of scheduled play, forcing players off the course for almost three hours.
But just when many began to think it was the pandemic-ravaged 2020 having yet another negative twist, the skies cleared and left an almost defenceless Augusta National with sodden greens ripe for scoring.
And while the final groups out still have nine holes to play, so stunning was the field’s attack that the field is on pace to shoot a record low average score, currently at 71.77 and ahead of the 1992 mark of 72.06 strokes.
That number was helped along by a generally good performance by the five-strong Australian contingent.
Marc Leishman began in the drizzle and bogeyed the 10th before play was delayed. Then, kickstarted by the tournament’s first eagle on the 13th and despite a cool putter, the big Victorian carded a fine 70 to share 21st place.
Jason Day overcame a sluggish start with five birdies in seven holes from the eighth, but gave up ground when his approach to the long 15th trickled back into the water and consigned him to 70 alongside Leishman.
Melbourne amateur Lukas Michel was the only Aussie who completed his round over par, but on his Masters debut showed some amazingly deft hands to ensure his four-over-par 76.
Michel, who qualified by winning the 2019 US Mid-Amateur Championship, hit just four fairways in his first competitive round at Augusta National, but chipped in for birdie on the 12th and made some spectacular par saves to keep alive his chances of making the cut.
Cam Smith will resume his first round tomorrow on the second tee at even par with an opening bogey on the 10th cancelled out by a birdie on the 13th in an uneventful start for the Queenslander.
But Aussie eyes will fall primarily on Scott, who has 8m left on the 11th for what would be a third birdie in four holes.
Scott dodged his long-time nemesis, the first hole, with a par, then played a stupendous little chip from the back of the second green to set up his first birdie.
He followed that by coming within inches of an eagle on the short par-four third hole and then making a clutch 3m par putt on the fourth to establish himself.
After blocking his drive way right on the seventh, he eventually made a stellar up and down from the front bunker – his curling 4m par roll ultimately laying the platform for what followed.
A drive into the fairway bunker on the eighth forced a layup on the par five, but he cashed in on a great approach there before lipping in for consecutive birdies on the ninth.
He narrowly missed his “hat-trick” on the 10th, but is again in position on the 11th tomorrow with the key scoring area of the course – the 13th through 16th – ahead if he can maintain his roll.
Officials said at the close of play that the second round wouldn’t be completed tomorrow, but hoped the third round would be finished on day three thanks to a vastly improved weather forecast.
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