Scott measures preparation by confidence it builds
ARDMORE, Pa. Unflappable. That’s how you would describe Adam Scott these days.
Doing it his way and not folding to the criticism of others, Scott – the first Australian to win the Masters – has been at Merion Golf Club, site of this week's U.S. Open, since late last week. However, because of the inclement weather, Scott has seen and played less of Merion’s 6,900 yards than he had planned.
Yet the Queenslander was unfazed. His approach to majors – and likely his victory in April at Augusta National – has Scott feeling better about the week.
“It turns out that coming up a few weeks ago was really quite valuable for me,” Scott said. “I've had three full rounds, and that's taken my time trying to figure everything out. I think I've got a pretty good idea where I'm going to try to go.”
With more than 4 inches of rain having fallen since Friday, learning every nuance of Merion is not as crucial as it would have been on a hard-and-fast course.
“Obviously with it being a little soft, it becomes a little more simple than what it was,” Scott said. “The ball is just going to stop where it lands. So if you're accurate, you'll be fine.”
But knowing Merion is one part of the puzzle. The only player who can win the Grand Slam this year, Scott measures his preparation in the confidence that he has done all he can and has the potential to execute the best he can, win or lose.
After what seemed a devastating loss at last year’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Scott was far from distraught; instead he turned philosophical.
“I think if I sat there and watched someone else do what I did, I would think, it would be devastating,” said Scott, who made bogeys on the final four holes and squandered the Claret Jug to Ernie Els. “But it's not how I saw it at all. Even when I was out there, I wasn't thinking that. I think it's probably part of the problem. I just didn't snap out of it. But afterwards, it felt like I'd played good enough to win, and I almost had it in my head I've won already this week.”
Scott said he took control of that Open during Thursday’s first round and controlled his destiny, which was better than many previous majors in which he thought he had no control over the outcome and likely was unprepared to win one of golf’s four pre-eminent events.
When Scott came back to the PGA Tour in Hawaii in 2011, it was after eight months of frustration a year earlier. After winning the 2010 Valero Texas Open to break a two-year drought, Scott had two top 10s and didn’t sniff a major championship.
A lackluster T-21 at Hyundai Tournament of Champions (a no-cut event with only 33 entrants) and a missed cut at the Sony Open where he was runner-up two years earlier told Scott he needed to change things up.
He took five weeks off, returning at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and promptly losing in the first round. But a T-6 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship the next month, a runner-up finish at Augusta, a third at AT&T National and then a win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, along with a seventh at the PGA Championship, proved to Scott what he was doing was working.
Scott would finish the year with a T-8 at Deutsche Bank, a T-6 at the Tour Championship and a T-11 at the WGC-HSBC Champions. He ended the season with $3,764,797, the first time he cracked $3 million in earnings since 2007.
“Brad (Malone), my coach, and I went through it all,” Scott said of what occurred during those five weeks. “He's been so influential in so many decisions of mine, and I think it's been helpful because he knows me well as a person as well as knowing my golf swing and the (overall) golf swing very well. He knows me well as a person for a long time and can see the frustration. So he just essentially eliminated things that frustrated me and made everything a positive.”
So with an uncluttered mind and a plan he feels comfortable following, Scott comes to Merion ready to win his second major, no matter what the conditions or the circumstances.
“You're owed nothing in golf," he said, "so you've really just got to go and get it.”