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Scott Still Leads Australian Open; McIlroy in Close Pursuit
Though Adam Scott didn't have another course-record-setting 10-under 62 in him, the 33-year-old was able to stay atop the leaderboard after two 36 holes of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club.
Scott, who began Friday three strokes ahead of the field, carded a 2-under 70 under some tough afternoon conditions to reach 12-under 132, two strokes ahead of Rory McIlroy, who shot 65 in the morning when the weather was calmer and the greens more receptive.
"It was always going to be a day where you just had to hang on," said Scott, the 2013 Masters champion. After recording 10 birdies Thursday, he had a mixed-bag of seven birdies, three bogeys and a double on the par-4 fourth hole on Friday.
Scott won the Australian PGA and Australian Masters earlier this month and teamed with Jason Day - who took the individual title - in last week's World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne to win the team component of that event.
If he can pull off another victory in the Australian Open, he'll win the "Aussie Slam," with victories in all three of his nation's majors, joining Melbourne native Robert Allenby, who accomplished the feat in 2005.
But first, he's looking at a match-up with Northern Ireland's McIlroy, with whom he'll be paired Saturday. "He (McIlroy) is one of the best players in the world so I'm going to have to bring my best game."
McIlroy told reporters later that he was a bit fortunate to miss the worst weather, which brought higher winds as the day wore on. "The weather wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be and the wind didn't pick up," he said. "So I knew we could take advantage of that, and the greens were a little bit softer as well."
The former top-ranked player in the world, a two-time major champion, added, "I feel like I'm playing well. I'm hitting the ball well off the tee and giving myself plenty of chances. It was good to see a few more putts go in today. As I've said for the last few weeks, the game is feeling much better and I'm much more comfortable with it."
After McIlroy, it's all Aussies on the leaderboard. In third at 135, Richard Green, had a second-round 66 that was propelled when he hit the shot of the day, a hole-in-one with an 8-iron on the par-3 160-yard sixth. It was his fourth ace as a professional.
"I had one in the New Zealand Open years ago, one in the American Express Tournament I think it was, one of the world golf championships in San Francisco about nine years ago . . . this one is the one I can remember," noted Green, who immediately turned around after his ball disappeared into the cup to see what he'd won (alas, no free car on Friday).
"It's nice to build a bit of confidence from hitting good shots again," the 42-year-old left-hander added.
Matthew Jones (68) is in solo fourth at 136, while tied for fifth at 138 are amateur Brady Watt (70), Leigh McKechnie (65), Alistair Presnell (71) and Josh Younger (69).
Canada's Ryan Yip, who shared second with American John Young Kim before the start of play, carded a 75 while Young had a 79. Yip made the cut but Kim didn't.
American Kevin Streelman, who teamed with Matt Kuchar to give the Americans a runner-up finish to the Aussies in the World Cup of Golf, withdrew on the fourth hole due to an eye infection. He later went to the hospital for treatment.
"It's pretty rough right now but we'll see what we can do," said Streelman, who was paired with Scott and Day Friday. "The doctor said it was pretty badly infected. I've been trying to do some drops but I started getting dizzy and it's the first time I've ever (withdrawn) at a tournament . . . I'm really sad to do it."
In addition to Kim at 144, among those not making the weekend cut of 1-over 143 are the two past Australian Open winners, Peter Senior and Greg Chalmers, with Senior carding an 81 and Chalmers a 73 Friday.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pga.org.au/scores.