DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Adam Scott was frustrated by hitting good shots and signing for mediocre scores. After a spirited chat with his caddie, both were determined to squeeze everything they could out of the second round at the Memorial.
Scott flirted with perfection Friday at Muirfield Village, missing four putts inside 12 feet and still shooting a 10-under 62.
It gave him a one-shot lead over Rod Pampling, and he hopes it will be enough to shake off the golf gremlins that have been holding him back since his victory in Houston two months ago.
“We just told each other what we thought about what’s going on out there, a bit of a heart-to-heart, because we knew I was close to playing really well,” Scott said of his talk with Tony Navarro. “Our idea was to come out and be focused, and neither of us make a mistake.”
He made one, hitting a heavy 7-iron that tumbled off the front of the green and into the bunker on the par-3 16th, and his 12-foot par putt rippled over the edge. He followed that with a 20-footer on the 17th for his 11th birdie of the round.
Scott was at 12-under 132, one shot ahead of Pampling, who played bogey-free for a 68. Bubba Watson had a chance to tie for the lead until he went long on the 18th for a bogey for a 68, leaving him at a 10-under 134 with another Aussie, Aaron Baddeley (68).
It was another day of good scoring conditions, with stifling heat, mild breezes, fairways with plenty of roll and greens that held approach shots and rolled smoothly.
That wasn’t the case for Tiger Woods.
The three-time Memorial champion hit the ball decently enough, but couldn’t make anything outside 6 feet until he rolled in a 10-foot birdie on the final hole for a 72, leaving him 10 shots behind.
“You look at a lot of guys up there, they’re making a bunch of putts, and not just from 6, 7, 8 feet. They’re making them from 20 feet,” Woods said. “I just haven’t done that.”
Scott didn’t really need to. He hit the ball so pure that except for hitting into the bunker on the 16th and going into the first cut of rough beyond the 18th green, he had only one putt longer than 15 feet.
Jim Furyk noticed the 62 on the board before he teed off, but what really got his attention were the other low scores from the morning group of players — some were pretty good, but nowhere close to what Scott did.
Scott’s round was one shot off the course record — John Huston had a 61 in 1996 — but even more impressive was that the next lowest score on the day was 67.
“That round was really good because it separated himself,” Furyk said after his 69. “That’s how I judge a low round. Someone might shoot 63, and you’ll see a couple of 64s and a couple of 65s. But when the next best round is a 67 … that’s a darn good round.”
It was so good that Scott twice had reason to think about a 59.
After going out in 30 to move into a tie for the lead, he birdied the next three holes to reach 9 under through 12 holes, then hit his approach to 5 feet on the 13th. Another birdie would have put him at 10 under for the round, needing only three birdies over the final five holes to hit golf’s magic number.
“The way things were going, it was realistic with a par 5 in there,” Scott said.
The slick putt slid by on the right, and Scott returned his focus to the next shot. He escaped with par on a good two-putt from 40 feet on the 14th, then hit his best shot of the day. With 248 yards to a pin at the back right of the green behind a bunker, Scott hit 5-wood that faded slightly and held its line over the final 100 yards, catching a ridge and settling 5 feet away.
Then he went back to crunching numbers.
“When I got up there and saw it so close, I did the math again,” Scott said with a smile. “I thought, ‘OK, here we go.”‘
And there it went. It was another fast putt that Scott didn’t want to run too far by the cup in case he missed, and the speed was such that it immediately lost its line and tailed off to the right.
“Going 11 under with three to go, there’s a good chance,” Scott said. “I shouldn’t be so good at math.”
But he had no trouble adding his scores to 62, matching his lowest score on the PGA Tour.
“We were watching it,” Ben Curtis said. “It looked like 59 there for a while, especially through 12 or 13 holes. But he still could have the low score by six shots today.”
It was only five — U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and Trevor Immelman shot 67s.
Pampling was one shot out of the lead and five clear of Scott when he teed off, playing bogey-free and picking up enough birdies to leave him satisfied. It just wasn’t enough to keep his nose in front, even after rounds of 65-68.
“You’d like to be leading after two rounds if you shoot those numbers,” Pampling said. “But obviously, the conditions were pretty nice early on, and Adam took full advantage. I couldn’t believe it. He kept going, didn’t he? But the chance was there.”
They will be in the final pairing Saturday, two Australians separated by 11 years. Pampling was an apprentice when he first met Scott at a place called Twin Waters.
“One of the guys said this young kid was out there playing,” said the 37-year-old Pampling. “They were talking about how good he was. I don’t know what score he shot there, but that was the first time I had met him.”