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Scott crushes Bay Hill field

AP, Kyodo

Adam Scott keeps putting his name in the Bay Hill record book, each round moving him closer to another handshake with The King.

One day after Scott opened with a record-tying 62 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he hit his stride around the turn Friday with five birdies in an eight-hole stretch to leave everyone else far behind. Even with a three-putt bogey on his final hole, Scott still had a 4-under 68 for a seven-shot lead.

He was at 14-under 130, matching the 36-hole record at Bay Hill first set by Tom Watson and Andy Bean in 1981. And his seven-shot margin at the halfway point shattered the previous record held by Tiger Woods in 2002 and Paul Azinger in 1988.

Scott sounds like he’s not the least bit satisfied.

“The challenge might be just to start again and try and play a great 36 holes,” he said. “Start fresh and try to be the leader after the next 36.”

That would merit a visit with Arnold Palmer, the tournament host known simply as “The King” in golf circles. Scott has spoken glowingly all week about his first invitation to Bay Hill when he was 20. Walking off the first green, Palmer was in a cart to greet him with a handshake, and Scott was amazed that Palmer knew his name.

Now he’s the Masters champion, and the 33-year-old Australian is playing like one.

Ryo Ishikawa took a step back to 10th place after a 2-over 74.

Ishikawa started the day in second, but canceled a pair of birdies with two bogeys and a double bogey to sit nine strokes out of first with a 5-under 139.

“I was really struggling to get to a good part of the green today,” Ishikawa said. “I got by just with my putting alone. Overall, these past two days haven’t been bad but what matters is how I can pick it up from the third round.”

J.B. Holmes (69), Chesson Hadley (68) and Francesco Molinari of Italy (70) were tied for second at 7-under. Keegan Bradley had the low score of the blustery second round with a 67, putting him in a group at 138 that included Brandt Snedeker (71) and Jamie Donaldson of Wales (71).

“I think I’m 10 behind and playing pretty well for two rounds,” said Snedeker, who was off by two. “He’s playing pretty phenomenal. He’s going to be a tough guy to catch. A guy that hits it as good as he does and seems to have a complete game like he has, and the way he’s playing now, he’s not going to come backward. Seems like an awfully special week if you can get close to him.”

Scott played in the afternoon, when the course began to get firm under two days of full sunshine, and the pace on the greens began to quicken.