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Scott ready to tackle what comes his way

LUCK, they say, has a tendency to level itself out over the course of a golf tournament.

Adam Scott on the 13th green as he battles the elements and unlucky tee-off times. Picture: Getty Sport
Adam Scott on the 13th green as he battles the elements and unlucky tee-off times. Picture: Getty Sport

But just try telling that to poor Adam Scott after the tee times he was handed in the opening two rounds of the Open here at Hoylake.

The Australian found himself playing in the most demanding conditions on both the first and second days, and was at a distinct disadvantage to many in the field as a consequence.

That only five other players in his half of the draw - George Coetzee, Bill Haas, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry and An Byeong-Hun were the others - were under par after 36 holes spoke volumes about the difficulties he faced.

The world No.1, though, performed admirably given the unfortunate circumstances to remain firmly in contention in a tournament he could, and really should, have won at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2012.

Scott coolly compiled a one-over-par 73 that contained four bogeys and three birdies to finish on a three-under-par total of 141 at the halfway stage. Closing with a brace of birdies - the former Masters winner trundled in a 25 footer at the 17th and then two-putted from 80 feet at the 18th - underlined his undoubted class.

Given that he has not, unlike Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Francesco Molinari, Sergio Garcia and many more, had the chance to play Royal Liverpool in benign weather, his performance bodes well for the remainder of the tournament.

Certainly, the player who bogeyed the final four holes of this major championship to gift victory to an unsuspecting Ernie Els two years ago was highly satisfied with how he has opened his account and is quietly confident going into the weekend.

The high winds and heavy rain the Met Office has forecast for the Wirral peninsula today certainly do not faze him given all that he has had to endure so far. "If it is tough, as I am told it is going to be, then I am certainly up for that challenge," he said. "The last 36 holes of a major are always going to be a grind anyway. I feel like I am swinging the club really well. I played really well, but didn't take advantage of my good shots. So the tougher it gets the more that favours me. If, that is, I can keep swinging well.

"Today was much tougher. There was a slight direction change in the wind and it was gusting. All of a sudden there were holes where I was hitting a 6-iron from 149 yards. That is when you know it is pretty windy. You have to be very careful with what kind of shot you pick. Shot selection is huge. You can afford to make a slight error in judgment but not a big one."

Scott continues to wield a long putter on the greens despite the R&A and USGA having jointly agreed that "anchoring" - the practice of bracing the grip end of the club on the body during a stroke - should be banned to ban from January 1, 2016.

It was suggested during the BBC commentary in the second round that the 34-year-old may have been struggling on the finely manicured swards in the wind due to his contentious choice of implement.

The Adelaide man, who was third in the Open at Muirfield last year and eighth when this tournament was last held at Hoylake eight years ago, dismissed that argument. "Everything is hard out there," he said. "Every shot is so crucial and it can get away from you. Even putts. The wind is affecting the break of a putt. If you misjudge that you can three putt from nowhere.

"The pace of the greens was tricky because uphill into the wind they are the slowest we will ever putt on. Downwind you have to adjust. It was really, really important to finish with a couple of birdies. It put me in good shape for the weekend."

Scott may be the player at the top of the world rankings at the moment but his playing partner Justin Rose is, without question, the form golfer. The Englishman, who received by far the majority of the support from the galleries as they made their way around, has won on his last two outings, the Quicken Loans National and the Scottish Open.

The former US Open champion chipped in for birdie and eagle on both the ninth and 10th holes en route to recording a two-under-par 70 that put him on two under overall and well placed. "I felt the chip-ins really got my championship going," said Rose. "I also holed a 15-foot par putt on the eighth.

"If I do go on to win, I would look back upon that stretch as turning point. It gave me an opportunity going into the weekend."

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