PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — In a span of two weeks, Adam Scott lost his No. 1 ranking and then ended the year without a major.
He’s paying close attention to Rory McIlroy, the guy responsible for both.
“I’m not afraid to say that I look at the way he played and I want that to be me,” Scott said Friday after a 6-under 65 that gave him a share of the lead with Cameron Tringale going into the weekend at The Barclays. “And I feel that I can play like that and have runs like that. You’ve got to learn from the best, and he’s one of them. So look at what he’s doing and the way he’s going about it is important. Because it’s relevant to the way we all play out here.”
Scott did his part for at least one day at the FedEx Cup opener. He missed only two greens. He missed six putts inside 12 feet. And he still shot 65. Scott poured everything into the majors this year, and while he didn’t do poorly – no worse than a tie for 15th in any of them – that didn’t come close to stacking up with McIlroy winning the British Open and the PGA Championship within a month.
Now that the majors are over, Scott figures the last big trophy left is the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
He was tied with a player who has never finished better than third on the PGA Tour, which doesn’t mean the weekend will be easy. There were three dozen players within five shots of the lead, and McIlroy was one of them.
Here are five things to look for on the weekend:
GREAT SCOTT: Scott won The Barclays a year ago on a different golf course – Liberty National. But he loves the classic, tree-lined courses in the area, and Ridgewood fits that bill. Scott called his 65 some of the best golf he has played all year from tee to green. “It just wasn’t my day on the greens,” he said.
If it sounds like he’s being greedy, consider this: Scott shot 65 despite playing the par 5s in 1 over.
THE UNKNOWN: Maybe it’s karma, but Tringale is tied for the lead just one week after calling to disqualify himself from the PGA Championship (he tied for 33rd) because he felt he should have taken an extra stroke on the 11th hole at Valhalla because of a whiffed 3-inch putt.
Tringale first thought his intent wasn’t to take a stroke. Matt Jones brought it up in the scoring trailer. The more Tringale thought about it, he felt it was better to be disqualified than to have that in the back of his mind.
So now he has a clear conscience, and a share of the lead at Ridgewood. He also gets to play Saturday in the final group with Scott.
RORY RALLIES: Rory McIlroy might have been the only person who wasn’t worried about making the cut. Even though he opened with a 74 and was below the cut line, McIlroy knew it was a matter of rust in his game from a week of celebrating his double-major summer. Sure enough, he came out firing and shot a 65 to get within five shots of the lead. Making the cut? He’s thinking about winning his fourth straight tournament.
And he put to rest – as if he had not already – the notion that Friday haunts him. McIlroy had a peculiar stretch of taking himself out of contention in the second round. But it turned around at the British Open, and his scores on Friday over his last four events have been 66-64-67-65.
ONE MORE CUT: Phil Mickelson played a shot off a hospitality deck behind the bleachers above the fifth green, giving the crowd a thrill (and Mickelson a bogey). Far more important was his birdie on the ninth hole because it allowed Lefty to make the cut on the number.
If he had missed the cut, he would have gone to the TPC at Boston with the risk of having three weeks off before the Ryder Cup.
But it’s not over yet. Because 79 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday. That’s more work for players like David Toms, Boo Weekley, Stewart Cink and Lee Westwood. If they’re not in the top 70 and ties after Saturday, their PGA Tour season is over.
ENERGIZED ELS: Ernie Els turns 45 later this year, though he’s playing like a rookie in his 20s. Els already played seven straight tournaments this year. Now he’s on his sixth straight week, and that figures to be seven at Boston next week.
There’s a method to his madness. Els has switched back to a convention putter with the anchored stroke for long putters to be banned in 2016. He can practice all he wants at home. He can play friends for big money. But he felt there’s no better test of his nerves with the putter than to be competing against the best in the world.
He is competing just fine. Els shot a 68 and was two shots behind.