To say the second round of the 2014 Australian Open was fascinating would be an understatement.
Friday wrap-up courtesy of 2014 Emirates Australian Open.
Greg Chalmers has played so many times in so many different countries, he scarcely knows where he is.
But even in a familiar spot atop the Emirates Australian Open leaderboard, he might be well advised not to look behind him tomorrow as the big guns are all back in the mix.
Chalmers, the 1998 and 2011 national champion, leads by a shot at five under par through two rounds at The Australian after a 66 on a day when no fewer than nine players held or shared the lead at various points.
But world No.1 Rory McIlroy (69) is one of four players who are a single shot behind. World No.3 Adam Scott also roared back into contention with a 66 to be only three shots back, and American Jordan Spieth, the first-round leader, is two behind.
The weekend could hardly be set up better. There are 16 players within five shots. Four of them are just one behind Chalmers — McIlroy, Adam Crawford, boom amateur Todd Sinnott and American Conrad Shindler.
Lefty Chalmers, 41, had a disappointing year in America this year at the end of which he has only conditional playing status. Hence his hectic recent schedule, including a flight from his US base in Dallas to Perth (for the Perth International), to Malaysia, through London back to Dallas then to Jackson, Mississippi, back to Dallas, to Cancun in Mexico and to Melbourne last week for the Australian Masters.
“I don’t feel jet-lagged, (but) it’s just my sixth event in a row and I’m trying to conserve my energy and ironically, the more birdies I make, it seems to be the more energy I have, so that’s always a good thing,” he said.
The tournament got a huge boost when Scott hit a beautiful five-iron to the par-five 14th hole and rolled in the eagle putt. A birdie from close range at the 16th and another at the 18th kept the momentum running.
He said his mind had been the difference after his first-round 74, including a front-nine 40.
“Sometimes you can say your game’s in good shape and it actually is even though the score doesn’t reflect that and I feel like I’m playing really well,” Scott said.
“I’m struggling to get momentum going my way … and staying calm certainly is a big thing in my game. (But) I certainly don’t want to panic at that point when I’m five-over after nine.”
McIlroy had a mercurial day and finished with just five pars on his card. Twice the Northern Irishman found water. But he eagled the 14th and had five birdies.
Chalmers, McIlroy and Crawford will be in the final group tomorrow – a position with which Crawford is comfortable.
“You practise and play to put yourself in contention and if you didn’t want to be there, you’re wasting your time playing this game.”