There are players who win majors out of the blue, never to appear in the upper realm again.
Then there are golfers whose triumph finally comes and seems an appetizer for something more.
Adam Scott certainly fell into that category when he captured the Masters in 2013. He already was a bona fide star, having won eight times on the PGA Tour.
The Australian didn’t let up after pulling on the green jacket. Scott won the Barclays Classic later in ’13, and he scored three more victories from 2014 through early 2016.
Then, possibly feeling the effects of the ban on his anchored putting style at the start of 2016, Scott all but disappeared. He had only four top-10s in 2017, and this season he has but one.
Just as frustrating, Scott has posted only a single top-10 in his last 12 major starts. That is why he was happy to be playing well and tied for ninth amid the suspended second round of the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club.
After opening with even-par 70, Scott fired a 65 Friday.
“The last 12 to 18 months I’ve not played to expectations,” Scott said. “It shows you to be on the top level is really difficult. I didn’t have things lined up for me to perform, and hopefully I’m on the way back. Confidence is a big part of that.”
Scott, who missed the cut at the U.S. Open but was encouraged with a tie for 17th in the British Open, said he felt something different on the range before he teed off Thursday morning.
“I felt like the younger Adam Scott swinging the golf club,” said the 38-year-old. “There was a bit of ease, grace, flow and rhythm. That was enough to let me play a little more freely.”
Putting always has been an issue for Scott, who has long been considered one of the best iron players in the game. After the anchored putting ban, he tried a shorter putter and got two wins with it, but has since gone back to a broomstick putter while using the style that has carried Bernhard Langer to domination on the PGA Champions Tour.
“I made a couple of extra putts for par today to keep the momentum going,” Scott said, “and that's probably the difference between most of my golf generally over the last 12 months.”
Woods battling back
Several thousand fans surrounded the eighth green as Tiger Woods walked to his ball in the middle of the fairway. He had to lay up after hitting into the rough, but would have a chance to knock an approach close for a birdie on the long par five.
Then the horn sounded. Groans from the fans soon followed as they realized that their hours of waiting to see Woods would be for naught.
Play was suspended by an incoming thunderstorm and, as it turned out, none of the players would return to the course until Saturday morning.
Woods had to be disappointed. He was playing his best golf of the tournament, at three under par for his round to stand at three under overall and in a tie for 23rd place, with Jordan Spieth, among others.
Woods, 42, would have to return with half the field at 7 a.m. local time, probably requiring a very early wake-up call to get his fused back ready to play what could be 28 holes in a day.
After coming back from a three-over start after two holes Thursday to card an even-par 70, Woods began the second round with birdies on three of the first five holes. He made putts of 14 feet on No. 2, six feet at No. 3 and 10 feet at No. 5.
At the par-three sixth, Woods flared his tee shot into the left bunker and hit a heavy sand shot that stayed on the fringe, 15 feet from the hole. He drained that to make a big par save.
He was in more trouble on the seventh, hitting into a fairway bunker off the tee. But after his approach came up short of the green, Woods’ pitch hit the hole and nearly dropped for birdie. He finished off another par save.
Finau’s crazy nine
It was a first nine holes for the ages, with not a single par, and Tony Finau won’t be particularly proud of the result.
The 28-year-old Finau got off to an incredible start with birdies on the first five holes. That moved him from four over to begin the round to one under, with a far better chance to make the weekend.
Then, disaster. Finau hit his tee shot into the water on the par-three sixth, and after taking a penalty drop on the tee he missed the green and eventually made triple-bogey six.
Finau bounced back with two straight birdies, but bogeyed the ninth hole.
For good measure, Finau birdied the 10th before play was halted, leaving him still without a par.
Among those who seemed destined to miss the cut were reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed, with a three-over total, and two-time Augusta winner Bubba Watson, who appeared to unhappily rush through a 78 that put him eight over for the tournament.
Still on the course was five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who was at three over while being even par for the day through eight holes.