Adam Scott hopes class and experience will prevail after snatching a share of the Australian Open halfway lead with a spectacular finish to his course-record-equalling second round.
Delighting the big gallery, Scott drained a long-range putt from off the green for eagle on the final hole to ice a flawless seven-under-par 63 at Victoria Golf Club on Friday.
The former world No.1 vaulted to eight under for the championship to be co-leader with Victorian David Micheluzzi.
A Melbourne sandbelt specialist and second on the Australasian Tour Order of Merit after winning last month’s WA PGA, Micheluzzi will be no weekend pushover after backing up his Thursday 63 with a second-round one-under 71 at co-hosting Kingston Heath.
But making up six shots on the world No.556 was a brilliant bounce-back for Scott after his self-confessed “disgusting” first-round 70 at Kingston Heath featured four bogeys and a double.
“It was a good day – a lot of solid stuff and I just worked my way around the course,” Scott said.
“There’s a lot of trouble out here and I was aware of it every hole but I managed to stay out of it most of the day, whereas yesterday I was in it most of the day.
“So I turned things around and am in a good spot going into the weekend.”
The 2009 Australian Open champion indeed looks a hot favourite to finally etch his name on the Stonehaven Cup for a second time.
He is the top-ranked player in the field and far and away the most accomplished name on the leaderboard.
Scott and Micheluzzi enjoy a three-shot buffer from their closest pursuers.
Unheralded compatriot Haydn Barron and New Zealander Josh Geary share third at five under with little-known American Gunner Wiebe.
Scott’s US PGA Tour peer Cameron Percy, Belgian Velten Meyer, Frenchman Pierre Pineau and Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard are all four back, with the Open to conclude at Victoria GC over the closing two rounds.
But having been here before and not quite finished the job and claimed an elusive second national championship, Scott isn’t counting his chickens just yet.
“Hopefully I can kind of keep running in this direction tomorrow,” he said.
“If I can play well tomorrow and anyone else can come with me, and it’s only a few guys in it, that’d be a great position for Sunday.
“Then maybe I have some advantage from experience.”
Only the top 30 players and ties will survive a second cut after Saturday’s third round introduced to accommodate the women’s event being staged simultaneously for the first time in Open history.
Cameron Smith will be among those trying to make up ground after miraculously avoiding the halfway chop.
The world No.3 only learnt six hours after posting a second successive one-over-par round that he’d made the cut on the number after a stack of Friday afternoon starters shot themselves out of the tournament.
But while Smith’s season continues, his LIV Golf teammate Marc Leishman can put his clubs away for the year.
Leishman missed the cut by a shot following a second-round 73 at Kingston Heath.