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Scott keeps it simple, ties Durant for Tour lead

11/3/2006 - Golf Adam Scott Joe Durant + more

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.


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.




"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.


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."