Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Scott could be great at Bay Hill
By John Hawkins
Defending champion Kenny Perry will miss this week's Bay Hill Invitational after knee surgery. Phil Mickelson's knees are fine, but he'll skip Bay Hill, too. Otherwise, the year's first Orlando stop offers the usual fleet of star power on a course that has become increasingly receptive to the aerial length of players such as Perry, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh.
Perhaps more than any tour event, Bay Hill has been maligned for catering to the long, high hitter. But peek at last year's leaderboard: Corey Pavin, Aaron Baddeley and Zach Johnson, all seemingly ill-suited for such a venue, grabbed top-10 paychecks. If not exactly an equal opportunity layout, Bay Hill still rewards quality of all sizes.
Today's best players hit it long and high, but being long and high doesn't make you a top-tier performer. One bomber on the cusp is Adam Scott, my pick this week. Scott hasn't played a stroke-play event since the Nissan Open, where his closing 64 vaulted him to second. It was the best round of the day by three strokes, validating an equipment change he made shortly before arriving in Los Angeles.
Scott's Bay Hill history is decent: four cuts made in four starts, a career-best T-3 in 2004. This is a great ballpark for him, and with a winning score usually somewhere around 10- or 12-under, he won't have to make every 15-footer to contend.
John Hawkins is a senior writer for Golf World magazine.