Scott keeps it simple, ties Durant for Tour lead

Updated: November 3, 2006, 8:44 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Adam Scott didn't have much of a chance the last time he was in contention, six shots behind Tiger Woods going into the last round of the American Express Championship. But he noticed that day how Woods finished off tournaments, and realized that he needed to do a better job himself.

His next opportunity comes at the final PGA Tour event of the year.

Adam Scott
John Amis/AP PhotoAdam Scott finished with eight straight pars to tie for the second-round lead at 4-under.

Scott kept himself in the short grass and out of trouble Friday at East Lake, giving him a 3-under 67 and a share of the lead with Joe Durant (68) at the Tour Championship.

"You look at how Tiger closes out the deal when he's in contention, and that's something that I need to figure out how I can do that," Scott said. "I had two or three really good chances this year to do that, and didn't get it done. That was disappointing, but that's something a young player needs to learn."

One of eight players in the 27-man field without a PGA Tour victory this year, Scott put himself in position to change that by making only one mistake on another chilly afternoon amid the golden flora of East Lake. That was a plugged lie in the bunker on No. 10, and Scott didn't let that get him down. He finished with eight pars and was atop the leaderboard with Durant at 4-under 136.

Durant had to work for his share of the lead, saving par from the bunker on the last two holes. He came up short of the 17th green from a fairway bunker and chipped to 2 feet, then blasted out of the bunker to 8 feet on the par-3 closing hole and made the putt.

"Didn't hit it great, but just tried to stay very patient," Durant said.

Trevor Immelman made six birdies in his round of 66, the low score so far this week, and was in the group at 1-under 139 that included Retief Goosen (71), Stuart Appleby (70) and Brett Quigley (68), who earned the distinction as the only player to get around East Lake without a bogey.

"To not make a bogey out here is unbelievable," Quigley said.

That starts with keeping the ball in play, and Scott did that better than most. The statistics will show that he missed only four fairways, but he was in the first cut each time. The rough is not particularly punishing, but deep enough that players have to guess whether they will catch fliers or the ball will come out flat.

Leaderboard
Adam Scott
Scott
T-1. Scott (-4)
T-1. Durant (-4)
T-3. Goosen (-1)
T-3. Quigley (-1)
T-3. Appleby (-1)
T-3. Immelman (-1)

• For complete scores, click here

"I'm driving the ball well, which I think is really a key around here," Scott said. "It's been pretty stress-free for me, which is nice."

With only a breeze in the 58-degree weather, the conditions weren't quite as difficult. Even so, only six players broke par in the second round, compared with eight on Thursday. And halfway through the season-ending tournament, just six players were in red numbers.

"The course is not letting you get on enough of a roll to make birdies," Appleby said. "Sometimes it's just barely letting you hang on to make pars. As you see by the scores, we're trying our best. It's tough out there."

Luke Donald made the only eagle this week at the par-5 15th, then followed that by becoming the first player to make birdie on the 16th hole. That carried him to a 67 and put him at even-par 140, along with Jim Furyk (71) and Zach Johnson (69).

Vijay Singh was chasing the leaders until he bogeyed the last two holes for a 72, leaving him at 141 but still only five shots behind. Davis Love III was headed for an amazing turnaround after opening with an 82, but he played his last three holes in 3 over for a 71 and again will have to play by himself on Saturday. Scott didn't need a reminder that he hasn't won this year, but he got one earlier in the week when he saw Gary Planos, who runs the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship at Kapalua that starts the 2007 season.

Joe Durant
John Amis/AP PhotoCo-leader Joe Durant watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during the second round of the Tour Championship.

The last time he hoisted a trophy in America was last year at the Nissan Open, which did not count as an official victory because it was only 36 holes due to rain. And while this might be his most consistent year, he doesn't have a victory.

"I've probably played the best I ever have over the period of a year, but have nothing much to show for it other than a win in Singapore," Scott said. "I was looking for a little bit more than that, really. This weekend is a good chance for me to get something out of my good play over the year."

Joining him in the final group Saturday will be a guy sorry to see the year end.

Durant feared losing his card until he turned his game around, which he attributes mainly to making putts from 4 to 10 feet, the kind that usually keep a round going or kill any momentum. The perfect example came on the par-3 18th, when he blasted out of the bunker to 8 feet and rolled it in to finish off his 68.

"Two months ago, I was telling guys I couldn't wait for it to end," Durant said of his season. "I hate to see it go now."

Still ahead of them is two days on a tough track just outside downtown Atlanta, with more chilly weather in the forecast. A dozen players were within five shots of the lead, and just about everyone else was falling too far behind.

On the bubble of falling out of contention was Ernie Els, who was 2 under for his round until dumping a flop shot into the bunker on the par-5 ninth and taking bogey, then losing three more shots on the back nine for a 72 to finish seven shots behind.

As the final tournament of the year, it would be natural for those who don't have it to play out the final two rounds and collect a check. But Scott believes there is far more to it than that.

"If you're playing bad, you're going to struggle," he said. "If you play bad for four days, I don't think you can get by."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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