Two late birdies put Scott clear

Adam Scott, his broom-handle putter working like a charm, has moved into the lead at the Tour Championship – with a flourish.

Adam Scott, his broom-handle putter working like a charm, has moved into the lead at The Tour Championship – and what’s more, he has done it with a flourish.

The 31-year-old Australian calmly used his pendulum putting stroke to smoothly roll home vital birdie putts from seven and 10 feet respectively at the last two holes at East Lake Golf Club to complete a scorching second-round 65 and nose one shot clear of the early leader KJ Choi, who had also shot a 65, and two clear of World No 1 Luke Donald (68) and fast-rising Aussie Jason Day (67).

First-round leader Keegan Bradley, the newly crowned PGA champion, slipped three shots off the pace into a four-way tie for 5th with fellow Americans Hunter Mahan, (68), Bill Haas (67) and Bubba Watson (64) when he could only add a 71 to his opening 64, but he said he was very happy to still be “right up there” in the title chase.

Nobody was likely to have been as happy, though, as Scott, who, after snatching a late lead from the five men who, at one time or another during a hot and sticky day in Atlanta, had lead the field, said, “Yes, it was Great finish for the day.

“I made a couple of nice putts on those (last two) holes. I’ve actually birdied them both days so far, so I’d like that trend to continue.”

Champion here in 2006, Scott recorded eight birdies and three bogeys to post an eight-under par total of 132 and stay on track for his ninth PGA Tour victory as well as FedExCup honours and the massive $10 million bonus that goes with it.

“I’m very pleased with the way I brought it back and got myself into the tournament,” said the Australian, who had earlier stumbled briefly with three bogeys on the first six holes.

“I managed to put it all together over the last 12 holes.”

Donald is two shots back in a tie for third, but he was another who was having trouble wiping the smile of his face.

“I was very happy with the score,” said the 32-year-old Englishman, who is bidding for his second PGA Tour victory of the year. “I didn’t hit the ball quite as solidly today, and I didn’t quite have as much control as I did yesterday.

“But I know I’m within striking distance so it should be a good, fun, exciting weekend ahead.”

For Scott, who was 19th in the FedEx standings when he teed off on Thursday, to win the FedEx Cup, he has not only to win the Tour Championship, but he must hope that the top five players in the standings at the start of the week, namely Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Donald and Matt Kuchar all finish poorly.

“I’ve got to win, and I imagine Webb must have to finish pretty lowly to give me a chance,” said Scott. “That’s all I know. I don’t know anything past that.

“I just figured if I win this week, I’ll be happy no matter what. I’ll finish what I think has been a really good season, moving in the right direction with everything.”

Simpson, who has won twice in his last four PGA Tour starts, carded a level-par 70 to end the second round in a tie for 19th , Matt Kuchar is sitting five shots off the pace in the middle of the 30-man field in joint 10th place and Rose has tumbled into joint last place with a 75, but ‘Steady Eddie’ Donald is right up there on Scott’s tail and is not likely to be shaken off all that easily

Nevertheless with the weekend rounds still and the pressure on the front runners likely to build and build, this big PGA Tour finale is far from over – and is not likely to be until the final ball has been sunk on Sunday

132 Adam Scott (Aus) 67 65
133 K J Choi (Kor) 68 65
134 Luke Donald (Eng) 66 68, Jason Day (Aus) 67 67
135 Keegan Bradley 64 71, Hunter Mahan 67 68, Bill Haas 68 67, Bubba Watson 71 64
136 Jason Dufner 66 70
137 Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 68 69, Fredrik Jacobson (Swe) 70 67, Matt Kuchar 67 70, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 69 68, Brandt Snedeker 68 69