Dodt leads Australian PGA, Adam Scott within striking range
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2016 file photo, Harold Varner III tees off on the ninth hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship golf tournament in Norton, Mass.. Half the field at the Australian PGA Championship had to set their alarms extra early for a 5:30 a.m. start so they could finish their first rounds and complete their second rounds on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) Adam Scott put together back-to-back rounds of 68 and feels like he's really back in the swing of things as he heads into the weekend at the Australian PGA Championship four shots off the pace.
Andrew Dodt followed his opening 65 with a 67 on Friday to hold the halfway lead at 12 under, two shots ahead of fellow Australian Ashley Hall and four clear of Scott and New Zealander Ryan Fox, who share third place.
Harold Varner III had a long, eventful morning before finishing before lunch at 7 under – good enough to hold up for outright fifth after two rounds. He was up 2:45 a.m., finished his first round in a share of the lead after a 65, and took the lead early in the second round before back-to-back double-bogeys on his sixth and seventh holes – the 15th and 16th holes at Royal Pines Resort. He picked up birdies on three of his last five holes for an even-par second round of 72.
Scott had an afternoon start on Friday and only had to focus on his second round. Half the field had to get up before dawn for a 5:30 a.m. tee off to finish off the first round which was postponed late Thursday because of lightning and rain. Ian Poulter was among them, getting up at 3:30 – something he's never had to do in 17 years on the tour. The 40-year-old Englishman had a 68 in his second round and was 4 under for the tournament.
Scott, who spent time on the Gold Coast while growing up in Queensland, known as Australia's Sunshine State, didn't think it was too much of a hardship for the rest of the field.
''You get up at 5 anyway here in Queensland,'' the former world No. 1 said.. ''I felt like a sleep in.''
Scott had five birdies and a bogey on Friday, and was hitting most greens with ease, ''making it fairly stress free.''
''It's the best I've hit in a few weeks,'' said Scott, who had slow starts at the Australian Open and at the World Cup of Golf last month. ''It was nice to find it. I haven't had that crisp stroke through the ball for two weeks.
''I've been very cautious not to hit it too far off line – I was in a spot today where I could trust it.''
Dodt finished with a bogey on the 18th on Friday after a previously blemish-free round.
''I hit the green on the last, but unfortunately rushed my first putt and then missed the one coming back. So it was a frustrating way to finish … but I'm not going to beat myself up about it too badly.''
Hall finished runner-up to Jordan Spieth at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney last month, saying the result saved him from having to go out and get a job to support his family.
He finished with a 65 in the first round, waking up at 3:17 a.m. to make it to the early start, and went through the second round in 69.
''It was a record – 3.17 isn't really a good time to wake up but everyone else did it,'' he said.
After starting on the back nine, Hall was down to 11 under before a triple bogey 7 at the 412-meter 4th hole.
''I was kind of cruising along before a little speed hump, but I got it back in the end,'' Hall said. ''I hit it right off the tee. It was a pretty bad shot actually. It hit the cart path and ended up in the hazard. Took a drop backward a little bit to try and hit the shot over the tree and in the bunker and 3-putted from there.''