- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 26, 2004

The Booz Allen Classic has turned into a testament to golf’s youth movement.

Standing atop the leader board is Australia’s Adam Scott, who posted a second-round 62 at TPC at Avenel yesterday to reach 14 under (128) and establish a 36-hole tournament scoring record.

“I think I missed one green yesterday, and I hit every green today,” the 23-year-old said after eclipsing the midpoint standard of 130 by Fred Funk in 1998. “So, you know, I have not really been in too much trouble so far, and I made my share of putts today.”

When you batter fairways and greens with the precision of some flesh-covered Iron Byron, a few putts are bound to drop — particularly on a set of greens drawing universal raves from the field. The angular Aussie coasted home with nine birdie bids inside 20 feet on the 6,987-yard, par-71 track, resurrecting a stroke with the short stick that had been ailing since his resume-making victory at the Players Championship in March.

“It was really just about the putting since the Players, and I’ve really struggled with that,” said Scott, who had made one cut in his four post-Players starts entering this week. “The greens here this week, I’ve seen a couple go in and got a really good feel for it.”

Part of the inspiration for Scott’s second-round 62 came from good friend and fellow young gun Charles Howell III, who opened the event with an Avenel-record 61 on Thursday.

“Maybe Charles is what got me going today,” said Scott, the event’s highest-ranked player (No.15). “I’ve known Charles since I was in college over here [UNLV]. We have a friendly rivalry. … I like to see young guys play well because it motivates me to go out and play better.”

Scott has plenty of motivational company heading into the weekend. Howell followed Thursday’s 61 with a solid 69, joining D.C. native Olin Browne in a pairing two behind Scott. Arron Oberholser, the 29-year-old comer who pushed Joey Sindelar for 72 holes at the Wachovia Championship, moved into weekend position at 8 under.

Perhaps most impressively, 22-year-old Bill Haas plowed into contention in his first professional start with a second-round 65 to match Oberholser at 8-under.

“I’m not a regular on this tour, but I feel like if I play my best golf, I can compete out here,” said Haas, who set an NCAA record for scoring average (68.93) in his recently completed senior season at Wake Forest.

Obviously, a Sunday battle among Scott, Howell and Haas would be Booz Allen’s dream scenario. But veterans like Browne, 1999 champion Rich Beem (131), Glen Day (131) and Tom Lehman (133) aren’t likely to vanish the next two days.

“We see all those youngsters every week. It’s unbelievable,” said Day, a 38-year-old journeyman with one tour victory (1999 MCI Classic) to his credit. “It’s tougher for Olin and I. We don’t hit the ball as far as these kids do, not even close. … But you’re not going to sit around and cry about it.”

Day had a good shot yesterday at equaling Howell’s 18-hole record and even had an outside chance at golf’s one-round Holy Grail, a 59 posted three times before in PGA Tour play (Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval).

But after reaching 10 under through 15 holes yesterday, Day’s momentum was broken by a two-hour, late-afternoon weather delay. And he bunkered consecutive approaches upon returning to a windier layout, carding a bogey at No.8 and finishing with a 62.

“I would have really enjoyed playing the last three holes without a delay,” Day said. “Now, that’s not saying that I may have had a chance to do something great or not. But, you know, it was there. We got the delay and came back out, and then it was like, OK, let’s just get this finished.”

The tour must have been thinking the same thing last night. The last two groups finished in virtual darkness at 8:45 p.m., with 80 players surviving the cut at 1 under or better.

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