Adam Scott pushes Arnold Palmer Invitational lead to 7 strokes

ORLANDO, Fla. — On a day when news broke that Tiger Woods was diagnosed with a bulging disk, Adam Scott was diagnosed with a bulging lead.

Scott will be under observation for the next two days as he tries to carry the Arnold Palmer Invitational on his back with the ease of a world-class powerlifter.

The awesome Aussie leads the tournament by seven shots and is 14-under at the midway point, following up his course-record-tying 62 with a solid 68 on Friday at Bay Hill.

By shooting 4-under in the second round, Scott set more tournament records, besting the previous largest lead here after 36 holes: Paul Azinger (1988) and Woods (2002) each held 4-shot advantages. (Azinger won the tourney by four shots, Tiger won by five strokes.)

Scott also tied the two-round low score of 130, set by Andy Bean and Tom Watson in 1981.

Now the $1.1 million question: Can Scott win the purse and beat the Bay Hill record for largest margin of victory?

Woods lapped the field in 2003, winning by 11 shots. That was a much different, much younger Tiger who was manhandling the PGA Tour.

Woods, 38, withdrew from the API on Tuesday, citing persistent back pain. GolfWeek reported Friday that Woods has a bulging disk but will not need surgery.

It might not have made any difference whether Tiger was here or not. Oh, Arnie and his ticket-takers and the networks would have appreciated his magnetic presence, but Tiger would have been hard-pressed to keep up with Scott, even if Woods’ balky back had cooperated.

Scott is playing one golf tournament, and everybody else is seemingly trying to sharpen their game for next week’s Valero Texas Open.

Windermere’s J.B. Holmes, Chesson Hadley and Francesco Molinari are sharing second behind Scott at a distant 7-under.

The next group at 6-under features a five-way tie that includes Keegan Bradley, who posted the day’s best score at 67.

Golfers are worry-warts, and conditions — the wind picked up a little Friday — can change. So Scott predictably reminded everyone, “We’re only halfway and there’s still … seven shots over two days is not enough. I don’t think you can have a big enough lead, to be honest.”

Until further notice, it’s Adam Scott vs. Adam Scott. It’s like internal match play for him.

He’s trying to fight the urge to out-race the shadow he’s casting over the field after posting the 62. He’s setting the bar so high, he’s in need of a ladder.

“Yesterday [Thursday] was one of those days when everything fell into place for me,” he said. “I think I’ve got to just try and start again tomorrow. With this weather, the course is going to play tricky again … really start to bare its teeth.

“Hopefully, if I can keep striking the ball like I am, I’ll give myself enough chances for birdie and hopefully more birdies than bogeys.”

Mostly putts fell into the hole for him on command in the first round when he seized a three-shot lead. He needed only 23, but in the second, Scott said, “I struck the ball better but didn’t make the putts.”

After struggling with flu-like symptoms on opening day, Scott said he still had a sore throat.

“So hopefully the worst is behind me,” he said.

The first hole got Scott’s immediate attention as he hit two mediocre shots and had to chip out from under a tree.

He made a left-to-right breaker for “a scrappy par,” adding that “the first hole was key in keeping some momentum out of [Thursday].

Bay Hill has been defenseless against him so far.


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