East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, GA—In 2006 when Australian Adam Scott won the Tour Championship, the new FedEx Cup series had just been announced. It was still a November tournament, which it had been since its inception in 1987, when Tom Watson was crowned the first champion.
Now five years and a big putter change later, Scott has a chance to win the Tour Championship again. If the right things fall into place, he even has a shot at the $10 million prize.
“When you think about everything that’s happened in five years, it’s a long time ago,” Scott said after firing a second round 65 to move into the lead. “I was lost at the start of that week – not lost, but I wasn’t playing well. And I got a great tip from Butch (Harmon) and there you go. Just one thin, like Justin ( Rose) had last week.”
Immediately after Scott’s 2006 victory, East Lake Golf Club underwent a change of grasses, added the Subair system and moved to September as the grand finale of the FedEx Playoffs. The result of the changes has been a firmer, faster, drier – most years—playing surface.
It’s also a better spectator experience now since November in Atlanta tended to be chilly and wet. When Scott won, the highs of the week were in the mid 50s, which will be the lows for this week.
While Scott’s positive experience in 2006 may help him to the Tour Championship title, getting to first place in the FedEx Cup points race is a big ask. Here’s what has to happen. First, he must win the tournament. Then Webb Simpson has to finish 13th or worse. Dustin Johnson must finish fifth or worse, Justin Rose must finish fourth or worse and Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker must finish third or worse. If the tournament ended today, he would win it. But that’s not how it works.
When asked what kind of a percentage Steve Williams would get if Scott won the big prize, he said, “Certainly my coach and my caddie will be getting a percentage of that, absolutely.” Then he paused and added, “It might not be the regular percentage, though!”
Korean K.J. Choi is one shot back of Scott. He credited better driving and putting for his 65, which tied Scott for the low round of the day.
Choi spent 45 minutes before his round practicing distance putting. That is about 15 minutes more than usual. His game has been elevated by making gradual changes with his coach Steve Bann.
The only down side is that he has been having difficulties with his thumb. It bothered him on just one shot today.
Tied two shots behind Scott were Jason Day and Luke Donald.
Donald said yesterday after his interview that his goal was still to win the money list on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. He could finish as low as third in the tournament and still have a chance to win the FedEx Cup, depending on what a variety of other players do and where they finish.
Today, he shot 68, two strokes higher than yesterday’s 66.
“I didn’t hit the ball quite as solidly today, and I didn’t quite have as much control as I did yesterday,” he explained. “ But you’re not going to hit it perfectly for 72 holes.”
He felt that he was still in very good position.
Jason Day was played with Adam Scott and both enjoyed the pairing.
“It’s fun,” Day said. "Hopefully we get paired together at the Presidents Cup.” He said he has known Scott since he was 15.
Day said he was not thinking about the overall points race this week.
“First things first, you have to win the tournament,” he said. “If you win the tournament, you have a good chance of winning the $10 million, the FedEx Cup. What I’m trying to focus on right now is just go hit some balls on the range this afternoon and not worry about it at all.”
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.