Scott continues to dominate Bay Hill

Adam Scott carded a four-under-par 68 to claim a seven-shot lead after the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The Masters champion, who is hot on the heels of world number one Tiger Woods in the world rankings, extended his lead even further after equaling the course record at Bay Hill with a 62 on Thursday.

With only three weeks left until his defense at Augusta, the Australian admitted a victory this week would be the perfect preparation for the season’s second major.

“It would be exactly what I need,” Scott told reporters after the round.

“The confidence you can take out of a win and playing some good shots when it counts is huge.

“And the feeling of being in contention close to a major can really count for a lot when or if you do get in contention at the major. I would take a lot out of a win this week.”

Playing in the event for the first time since 2009, when he missed the cut, Scott carded six birdies and two bogeys to reach 14-under-par after 36 holes – a tie for the half way record at Bay Hill.

“I think it was a pretty good way to back up a low round,” Scott said.

“It’s not easy to do that, especially around a tough course.

“I played really solid. I would say I struck the ball much better than yesterday, but just didn’t quite make the putts. But it’s tough to do that all the time around a tract like this.”

In a tie for second place on seven-under are Italy’s Francesco Molinari (70) and American pair J.B. Holmes and Chesson Hadley.

Another stroke further behind on six under are Welshman Jamie Donaldson (71) and Americans Keegan Bradley (67), Jason Kokrak (71), Morgan Hoffmann (71) and Brandt Snedeker (71).

Although a victory this week wouldn’t hand Scott the world number one ranking, if either he or Woods don’t play again before Augusta, as is expected, he will overtake the injury-ridden 14-time major winner just ahead of the Masters.

“This course will really start to bare its teeth,” Scott said of the final two rounds.

“I’ve got to take in the attitude of starting over again and trying to play a really hard 36 holes. And hopefully if I can keep striking the ball like I am I’ll give myself enough chances for birdie.

“The first hole was key in keeping some momentum out of yesterday, making kind of a scrappy par and a good putt on the first to feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

“Yesterday was just one of those days where everything fell into place for me and today I just stayed patient on those holes where I didn’t do as well and felt like if you keep playing this well and hitting good shots you’re going to create a few opportunities.

“It wasn’t that I was putting poorly the holes I didn’t make putts. I just had to wait for a couple to drop.”