Adam Scott remains on track to enter his Masters title defence as golf’s world No.1 after equalling the 36-hole record at Bay Hill.
Scott fired a four-under par 68 to be 14-under for the tournament, seizing a seven-stroke lead after two rounds of the US PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.
A victory this week from world No.2 Scott wouldn’t see him overtake Tigers Woods atop the world rankings but it would move him so near that he could do so in the next few weeks if neither plays again, as is expected.
The 33-year-old Queenslander held a three-shot lead overnight after a stunning opening 10-under-par 62, equalling the course record held by Andy Bean and his fellow Australian Greg Norman.
Scott, at the event for the first time since he missed the cut in 2009, made six birdies and two bogeys on Friday, with his effort snaring the 36-hole record set by Tom Watson and Bean in 1981.
And his seven-shot margin at the halfway point shattered the previous record held by Woods in 2002 and Paul Azinger in 1988.
But Scott wasn’t getting carried away with his performance.
“This course will really start to bare its teeth,” he said.
“I’ve got to take in the attitude of starting over again and trying to play a really hard 36 holes. And hopefully, if I can, I can keep striking the ball like I am, I’ll give myself enough chances for birdie – and hopefully, more birdies than bogeys.”
Italy’s Francesco Molinari and Americans JB Holmes and Chesson Hadley shared a distant second on 137. Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Americans Keegan Bradley, Jason Kokrak, Morgan Hoffmann and Brandt Snedeker were another stroke adrift.
Scott opened his second round with five pars before sinking a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 sixth, but found a bunker off the tee at the par-3 seventh and made bogey.
Scott closed the front nine with a 13-foot birdie putt and added back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12, sinking birdie putts of five and six feet, respectively.
He added a 28-foot birdie putt at the 15th on Friday.
After a tap-in birdie at the par-5 16th, Scott closed with a bogey, missing a five-footer for par at 18 to settle for a seven-shot lead entering the weekend.