By Brian O’Hare
SATURDAY at the 2013 Australian Open is looming as a showdown between two stroke leader Adam Scott and former world number one Rory McIlroy.
In a dream pairing for organisers, the two tournament drawcards will tee off together in the final group at a Royal Sydney Golf Club already experiencing massive crowds.
Even rain and squalling winds couldn’t keep spectators away for a second round on Friday that saw McIlroy take advantage of the comparatively better morning conditions to post a 7-under 65.
That put him even with Scott’s course record 10-under 62 first round and set up the likely third round showdown between the US Masters Champion and the two time Major winner.
“It would be a great atmosphere if it happens,” McIlroy said of the probable pairing after his round.
“ …. I mean it would be something I’d look forward to. He’s coming home as Masters champion, won two of his last three events and is arguably the best player in the world this year. It will be exciting definitely if we’re paired over the weekend.”
Scott, starting just after midday threated to run away with the event when he confidently strode up to the first tee, put his drive on the green, then narrowly missed an eagle putt.
He snatched another birdie on the par three 3rd to go to 12-under and it appeared – despite the worsening weather – another 10 or so under could be on the cards.
But it all came unstuck on the 4th when Scott fluffed a chip and double bogied. He compounded the error on the next hole with a missed short par putt for another bogie.
The weather became decided unfriendly at that stage, with strong wind gusts and rain making it hard enough to hold onto an umbrella, let alone a golf club. Thoughts then were that maybe McIlroy would be playing with someone else in the final Saturday pairing.
But Scott fought back, showing the resolve that his helped him to so much success in recent years.
In an up and down round there were five more birdies offset by two bogies. He eventually signed for a 2-under 70, to lead McIlroy by two strokes with Richard Green also surging with a 66 to be outright third on 9-under.
“Yeah, it was a tough afternoon,” said a reasonably satisfied Scott. “There was plenty of good stuff in there but made a few mistakes in the tricky conditions but overall it was pretty good. It was at times really difficult and I think I held it together pretty well.”
The 36 year old said coming off such a superb opening round wasn’t really the problem for him.
“Well it is [difficult] when it’s like a five club wind for a couple of holes. I I mean, it was never going to be easy once I warmed up on the range and got to the first tee and it was really blowing. It was going to be a day where you just have to hang on, try and hit as many good shots as possible. I hit lots of good ones. I made lots of birdies but there were bogeys out there easy to come by today if you were just slightly off and I think probably most draw cards would have looked similar this afternoon.”
Scott was looking forward to his weekend and the challenges of taking just the second ever Aussie Triple Crown in one season.
“We’ve got another good leaderboard stacking up here and like I’ve said the whole week, it’s going to be a tough one to win this week and there are plenty of guys in the mix. I’m going to have to play some good golf if there’s fair conditions because there are plenty of birdies out there.”
“I’m looking forward to [playing with McIlroy].I don’t think I’ve played that much this year, maybe a few times. We played at the US Open but obviously he’s one of the best players in the world so I’m going to have to bring my best game and try and match it with him.”2013 Emirates Australian Open Leaderboard