A major champion’s reward: Trip to paradise
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – It’s been six months since Adam Scott won the Masters, and though the perks of that achievement will last a lifetime, he’s eager to start enjoying the rewards – especially the most notable one.
“I think the best (opportunity) is that I get to go back to Augusta for the rest of my life,” Scott said. “That’s going to be enjoyable. I look forward to playing there for many, many years and going to that Champions Dinner for a long, long time. I think that’s got to be the best opportunity.
“There’s so many perks to do with that event that keep popping up. I’ll be playing somewhere with (2007 Masters champion) Zach Johnson, and he points out that we’ll be . . . together (at the Champions Dinner) until they put us in the ground. I look forward to that kind of stuff. It’s going to be really neat. I don’t think I’ve really gotten to experience any of them yet. I think it will all happen in the future.”
Scott is one of three major champions from 2013 here for the 31st PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which gets underway Tuesday at Port Royal Golf Course. Scott, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner are joined by defending champion Padraig Harrington, who is playing in the event for the fourth time. Harrington is a fill-in in for Phil Mickelson, who declined the invitation, citing “prior commitments.”
“It’s nice that there’s an event like this that let’s you sit back and remember what happened, whether it was April or August at the PGA, and let it sink in, what you’ve actually achieved,” Scott said.
Scott is using the PGA Grand Slam of Golf as a method to decompress after a heavy fall playing schedule. He arrived days early to see the island and play golf with his father, Phil.
“It’s been great,” he said, “nice and relaxing. I’ve caught up on some rest after a couple of long weeks with the Tour Championship and the Presidents Cup. It’s just nice to relax after the last three months of golf. We’ve played a lot of serious golf in the last three months, and there’s been no stop.”
Just weeks after his U.S. Open victory at Merion Golf Club, near Philadelphia, Rose was there in person to witness another special day for a British athlete.
On the day of the men’s singles final at Wimbledon, Rose was invited to attend and watch from the royal box.
“Watching Andy Murray achieve what he did, break a spell there and be the first (British player) to win at Wimbledon, that was great,” Rose said. “To be there on that day, and to be sitting in the company that I was, was a little surreal.”
Once a year, Rose gets together with a group of childhood friends, all golfers, and the 10 of them fly off somewhere different on a guys-only trip, as Rose explains, “just to catch up with one another.”
This year they went back to the Philadelphia area, where Rose won the AT&T National in 2010, just weeks after his first victory in America, and then in June at Merion.
“This year, being the U.S. Open champion, I felt like I could call in a couple more favors than I typically would,” Rose said. “We played some great tracks. We played Pine Valley; we went back to Merion. To have the opportunity to bring 10 of my best friends to Merion and play a round of golf was very special.”
Though Dufner won the PGA Championship and was a contender late in the proceedings at the U.S. Open, he’s trying different tactics in his preparation for 2014.
“I’m not playing that much this off-season,” he said. “I’ve just got this event, China (the Oct. 31-Nov. 3 WGC-HSBC Champions) and Tiger’s event (the Dec. 5-8 Northwestern Mutual World Challenge). I’m going to see if that helps me a little bit next year for the start. I think I played a lot through September or October last year; five or six events.
“For a lot of us, it is just scheduling. You get so many opportunities when you’re a top-50 player in the world. To find what’s going to fit right, sometimes you go through a little bit of a learning experience. So, hopefully, next year, I will pick up with my form to start the year and keep it going for the full year.”
Harrington, who won last year’s PGA Grand Slam of Golf as an alternate, has a different outlook for this year’s event.
“I should have won my first two here, and I think I had a point to prove last year,” said Harrington, who lost the 2007 and ’08 Grand Slams in playoffs. “There was a certain amount of urgency in it last year. This year I’m pretty relaxed about it. I’m certainly not as stressed about it was I would have been in previous year."
Harrington is the only one of this year’s elite group of four who hasn’t won in 2013. His best finish was in his very first start of the season, and he realizes his game is in a period of transition.
“It was just a couple of issues, and then I just had no momentum into the rest of the year,” he said. “But the overriding factor would be that I’ve matured as a player. I’ve seen most of it before; there’s not as much innocence in me.
“I’m pretty confident because I have a good understanding of what I do and what I’ve done to get where I am. But sometimes that confidence leads to a little bit of overexpectations, and you know, a little bit of fear never did anybody any harm. I have to figure out a different way playing with who Padraig Harrington is now, than who I was over the years.”