LUSS, Scotland (AP) — Already a winner on the PGA Tour this year, Retief Goosen continued making progress toward rejoining golf’s elite Friday with an 8-under 63 on a gorgeous day at Loch Lomond for a two-shot lead in the Scottish Open.
Adam Scott (67) was right behind on the leaderboard, and can only hope he’s not too far behind in the recovery process.
Both reached as high as No. 3 in the world over the last four years, Scott most recently last summer during the U.S. Open. Both watched various parts of their game break down.
They will be in the final group Saturday at Loch Lomond, the final event before heading south to Turnberry for the British Open.
“We all want to play well,” said Goosen, who was at 11-under 131. “We all go through patches in this game. Nobody knows why. Otherwise, all of us would be No. 1, and that’s how it is.”
Scott refused to get derailed by a double bogey late in his round, answering with three birdies over his final four holes that allowed him to take in the pleasant scenery – sparkling blue water from Loch Lomond, and his name on the leaderboard.
“Nice to see it up there for a weekend, anyway,” Scott said. “Two rounds in the 60s in a row, pretty good for me.”
Martin Kaymer of Germany (65) and Marcus Fraser (66) of Australia were tied for third at 8-under 134. Nick Watney, an American making his European Tour debut, had a 68 and was in the group at 7-under 135.
The top four all played in the morning, the start of a spectacular summer day in Scotland with clear skies and virtually no wind.
Goosen slipped to No. 45 in the world at the end of last season, broke through with a victory at the Transitions Championship outside Tampa, Fla., and keeps giving himself more chances to win.
The only surprise was his opening tee shot, which he topped so badly with a 3-wood that it went only 180 yards into the rough, and he had to lay up short of the water on the 455-yard hole. He hit 7-iron for his third shot to 25 feet and saved par.
Then came another big miss, some 40 yards to the right, and Goosen again saved par with a pitch-and-run through a valley in the middle of the green to within 4 feet. As always, he kept a quiet sense of humor about it.
Asked the last time he hit a tee shot that went only 180 yards, Goosen said, “When I hit a 6-iron off the tee.”
Scott tied for second in Honolulu at the Sony Open at the start of the year, then his game mysteriously vanished. He hasn’t finished in the top 20 since, and missed six consecutive cuts. From 13 months ago, when he was part of the Nos. 1-2-3 grouping at the U.S. Open with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, he has slipped to No. 43.
Scott retreated to London, working alone on the range at Queenwood Golf Club to get back to the basics, and he is slowly putting his game back together. He opened with a 66, and arrived at Loch Lomond on Friday expecting to play well.
“After yesterday, if I hit it at all like I did then, it’s hard to have a bad score,” he said. “It feels really good the way my game is at the moment. I’m just enjoying being out there, and being able to hit some shots.”
The toughest part of his week has been dodging questions about tennis star Ana Ivanovic, with whom he has been linked romantically. Scott was courtside during Wimbledon. She has been outside the ropes at Loch Lomond, hard not to notice.
Asked if it helped to have a sports star with whom to relate, similar to Greg Norman’s marriage last year to Chris Evert, Scott smiled through the lengthy question before saying, “I don’t know what to answer to that question.”
“All areas of my life are in a good place right now,” he said.
The same could not be said for John Daly, who made double bogeys on both par 5s on his back nine for a 75 to miss the cut. Daly said his rib injury was better, just not his luck. He said a beautiful drive on the third landed in a divot, as did another tee shot on the 12th.
“Nothing is going right. I’m used to it,” Daly said.
Also missing the cut was Nick Faldo – known as “Sir Nick Faldo” on the European Tour Web site, for this was his first tournament since knighthood. He shot 73 and missed the cut by four shots, same as Daly.
Colin Montgomerie was spared a weekend off when Martin Erlandsson finished bogey-bogey-triple bogey to allow the top 65 and ties at even-par 142 to advance to the weekend.