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GOLF: Scott holds huge lead at Bay Hill

by DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer on March 22, 2014 10:15 AM

ORLANDO, Fla. — The gallery lined the final 400 yards of the fairway down the right side of the par-5 16th at Bay Hill to watch the final few holes of what was close to a masterpiece in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Tiger Woods was 120 miles away, resting his ailing back.

Masters champion Adam Scott has put on quite a show over two days at Bay Hill, getting his name into the record book after each round. He opened with a 62, matching the best score at Bay Hill. With six more birdies on Friday, he tied the 36-hole record at 14-under 130, previously held by Andy Bean and Tom Watson in 1981.

As for that seven-shot lead?

That shattered the tournament record first set by Paul Azinger in 1988 and later matched by Woods in 2002.

“I think it was a pretty good way to back up a low round,” Scott said after his 4-under 68 on Friday. “It’s not easy to do that, especially around a tough course.

“Going back to the first hole was key in keeping some of the momentum out of yesterday, making a scrappy par and a good putt on the first to feel like I’m heading in the right direction to start the day.”

It was the part in the middle that allowed him to pull away. He hit a gorgeous shot from 167 yards out of the rough and just over a bunker to 12 feet for birdie on No. 9.

He hit a 7-iron that covered the flag and settled 4 feet away for birdie on the 11th, followed by a routine up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 12th. After a tough chip that he nearly holed on the par-3 14th, Scott smoked a 3-wood into a perfect spot in the fairway and rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt.

The gallery on every hole murmured when they saw his score stretch all the way to 15-under par.

No one else was better than 7-under par — J.B. Holmes (69), Chesson Hadley (68), Francesco Molinari of Italy (70).

Scott was making it look easy.

On the 16th hole, caddie Steve Williams was some 275 yards down the left side, far enough away that he could barely make out his boss back on the tee. Williams watched the swing and quickly said, “Perfect.”

And that it was.

He hit a 7-iron to about 35 feet for a two-putt birdie and kept right on going. Even with a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole, he still had the second-best round on a course that was getting increasingly difficult with two days of full sunshine and stronger wind.

What next?

“The challenge might be just to start again and try and play a great 36 holes,” he said.

“Start fresh and try to be the leader after the next 36.”

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Fred Couples shot a 6-under 66 to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak on Friday.

Jeff Maggert shot a 68 in his Champions Tour debut, joining Kenny Perry, David Frost, Jay Haas and last year's tournament champion Michael Allen in second place.

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