Adam Scott had reigning Wimbledon champ Ash Barty for added moral support as he looks to become only the third Australian in 66-years to capture the European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship, writes Bernie McGuire at Wentworth.
Scott superbly birdied his closing two holes for the second day running in signing for a 3-under par 69 for a 10-under-par tally to be lying fourth heading to the weekend rounds on the West Course at Wentworth.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who had shared the lead on day one, added a second round 68 to lead by a shot from American Laurie Canter (66) and Italian Francesco Laporta (65).
It had been a bizarre start to Scott’s second round, launching an absolute missile down the first to be 125-yards from the flag only to walk off with a bogey five. He then birdied the second hole as he did on day one but posted a horror double-bogey six at the third ahead of a brilliant eagle from around 10 feet at the fourth.
There were suggestions as Scott made his way to the par-3 fifth hole that the only thing missing on his card was an ‘ace’ before walking off with a par.
The double Grand Slam-winning Barty, who loves her golf, had been spotted by Sydneysider and former European Tour winner Wayne ‘Radar’ Riley, now working for SKY Sports Golf and a legend among the UK crowds. ‘Radar’ was in friendly discussion with the 25-year-old, Barty walking the full 18-holes supporting Scott.
Riley had, in fact, shot a then course record 63 in the 1991 Wentworth event ultimately won by Victorian Mike Harwood. That was the last time an Australian tasted victory at European Tour HQ, Rodger Davis in 1986 having been the first from ‘Down Under’ to do so.
Scott, contesting the event for a first time in 15 years, bogeyed the ninth but produced an inward half of 33 that included a birdie hat-trick from the 11th and while dropping a shot on 14, then birdied the par-5 17th.
There was a huge roar of delight from one of the biggest golfing crowds this year in the UK, including The Open, when Scott took on the par-5 18th with his second shot, producing what he said was his ‘swing of the day’ in clearing the small man-made stream that guards the green to brilliantly find the ‘dance floor’ and set-up an easy two-putt birdie.
“I felt good leaving the golf course as it was a bit squirrely early on,” said Scott. “Overall, it was two good days work and I am right in the mix.
“I feel like I am swinging well and glad you didn’t bring up the first three holes, as it was important to get back on track quickly. I feel like I have got my numbers well dialled in and I’m rolling in a good few putts here and there.
“You have to take advantage of the par-5s out here and I think I have done that well these two days, so overall these two rounds have been great and Wentworth has not looked better.
“I’ve heard the good reports from all the work they’ve done on the course over the past few years and it’s nice to come back and enjoy playing the tournament again.”
Following an opening round of 10-over 73 Scott’s good mate Wade Ormsby bounced back in brilliant fashion with a round of 6-under 66 to be tied for 25th at the halfway mark, Kiwi Ryan Fox (69) making the cut on the number.
Min Woo Lee (75-74) and Scott Hend (78-71) both failed to progress to the third round.