SYDNEY – His bid for a second Australian Open victory in four years having come up short, Adam Scott left The Lakes a bit dejected, though squarely focused on the upcoming Presidents Cup, which begins Thursday at Royal Melbourne.
And if that should require him to match up against Tiger Woods, well, Scott doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal.
“If that’s the right pairing, I’m not going to avoid it,” Scott said.
Yet he knows people are making a big deal of it because his caddie, Steve Williams, had a contentious break-up from Woods. Clearly bitter toward Woods, Williams in August gave interviews to media members that didn’t sit well with his former boss. Then last weekend in China, Williams got in the middle of another controversy when he cracked a racial joke directed at Woods.
Though Woods and Williams came face-to-face and reportedly shook his hands and talked things over before the Australian Open, it seems an attractive proposition to spice up this week’s Presidents Cup with a Woods-Williams – er, Woods-Scott – pairing.
“If it happens, it happens,” International Team captain Greg Norman said. “It is not going to be premeditated. I talked to Adam about it. I asked him if it worked out that way, did he have a problem with it. He said, ‘Not at all. I’ll play him and win a point for you.’ It can fall out that way. He might end up playing with him every day. Who knows? I’d expect them to meet some time from Thursday onwards.”
Scott almost seems agitated by all the hype.
“Look, there are tons of people on tour,” Scott said. “Not everyone likes one another. But we’re all professionals. We have jobs to do.”
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UP-AND-DOWN: Though Scott came home in a final-round 68, broke par all four days, and finished 9 under to secure a share of fourth, he was hardly happy.
“No, not really,” he answered, when asked if he thought he had a chance to win Sunday. “The game is good, but it must have been the most up-and-down weeks ever for me.”
Indeed, you could have gotten motion sickness from Scott’s four-day ride. He made an albatross when he holed his second shot at the par-5 eighth Thursday, added three eagles and 18 birdies, yet he was done in by 12 bogeys and three doubles.
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WEEKEND WARRIOR: Geoff Ogilvy also tied for fourth after a wild swing of play. Level par to barely make the cut, he made 12 birdies and an eagle to shoot 9 under for the weekend. A closing 65 sent him roaring up the leaderboard, but Ogilvy could only laugh.
“It took me four days to get it all worked out,” he said.
But give him credit. Ogilvy wasn’t going to take the easy way out and blame the greens at The Lakes, which is what so many did.
“More like aging eyes,” he quipped. “But they’re the same as last year when I made putts from all over, so you can’t blame the greens.”
A year ago, Ogilvy finished at 19 under to win the Aussie Open at The Lakes.
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SILVER LINING: You might be tempted to say that bad news travels fast, because thanks to the high-tech information highway that dominates our world, Bill Haas learned of his alma mater’s heartbreaking football loss to bitter rival Clemson midway through his round.
But there was a flip side to Wake Forest’s 31-28 defeat that allowed Haas to smile.
Chandler Catanzaro, whose 43-yard field goal as time ran out provided No. 9 Clemson with the victory, dates Haas’ youngest sister, Georgia.
“He’s one of the nicest kids ever,” Haas said. “I mean, I always pull for Wake to win, but I feel good for him.”
Georgia Haas is a sophomore at Clemson. She and Catanzaro are high school sweethearts.
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RISING STAR: When John Limanti finished his caddie duties for Aron Price at Disney, he figured his season would include a few days of work for a friend at the first stage of Q-School, followed by a good stretch of time off.
Then his phone rang and Kyle Stanley was at the other end, wondering if Limanti wanted to head overseas.
“Are you kidding? It was a great opportunity,” Limanti said.
Limanti worked for Stanley at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia (T-26), then they headed to Sydney. Since there was a week off before the Australian Open, Stanley chose to practice at nearby Royal Sydney and club officials invited him to play in something called the Royal Sydney Cup.
Stanley shot 3 under for 36 holes and won by four.
His finish in The Australian Open wasn’t as high – at 7 under, he was 11th – but it clearly was proof that just days shy of his 24th birthday, Stanley is a rising star to keep focused on. He had four top 10s in a season in which he earned $1,523,657, and Stanley appears to be getting more and more comfortable.
“But I’ve played a lot of tournaments, so I’m ready to shut it down,” Stanley said.
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STAY DOWN UNDER? Australian citizenship? The thought made American Kelly Kraft smile. He is, after all, in Australia for three weeks, then he’ll be back here after the holidays for another 10-day stretch.
Hey, when you’ve got aspirations to play professional golf, you’ve got to go where the golf’s being played, and at the moment, that’s Australia.
“I was signed up for Q-School,” Kraft said, “but when I decided not to turn pro (until after the Masters), I didn’t think it made sense to go.”
What made sense, figured the U.S. Amateur champion, was to look for playing opportunities and that led him to Australia. With an assist to his teammate at Southern Methodist University, Aaron Stewart, of course. The son of the late three-time major champion Payne Stewart knows fellow Isleworth resident Nick O’Hern, and “Aaron put me in touch with him,” Kraft said. O’Hern put in a good word for Kraft, and next thing he knew, the kid from Denton, Texas, was signed on for the Australian Open, next week’s New South Wales Open, then the Australian PGA.
Closing with an even-par 72, Kraft finished at 3-under 285 and earned low-amateur honor at The Lakes and that had the 22-year-old smiling beneath his Pine Valley visor.
“I get to be part of a ceremony,” Kraft said.
After this extended stay in Australia, Kraft will return home for the holidays, but in early January he’ll be back, this time at Royal Melbourne for the annual Master of the Amateurs tournament.
After that, Kraft will turn his attention to staying sharp for another Masters tournament – that one at Augusta National.
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STAYING BUSY: At this time last year, David Toms was in the midst of a solid three-month break from golf.
Now, he’s prepared for the Presidents Cup, his third tournament in three weeks.
“Playing good does crazy things,” Toms said, laughing.
It was an acknowledgement that, though he’s normally content to hunt for ducks and watch LSU football games at this time of year, Toms is quite pleased to be reaping the benefits of a year well played. He won at Colonial, one week after squandering a chance to win The Players, and with seven top 10s, Toms easily qualified for the Presidents Cup team, which is what prompted appearances last week at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai and this week’s Australian Open.
“I’m disappointed that the last two weeks have been unproductive,” Toms said after finishing T-38 at The Lakes, one week after being T-59 in China. “Unproductive, so far as the results go. But I’ve gotten acclimated, and I’ve at least hit shots, and that’s a better way to prepare than being at home and hitting balls.”
Of course, by not being at home, Toms has missed two weeks of LSU football. Last week, of course, was painful, being that the No. 1-ranked Tigers upended arch-rival Alabama, which was ranked No. 2.
“Missing the game was one thing, but I couldn’t even watch it,” Toms said.
He played the final round of the Australian Open stress-free, knowing the Tigers would easily handle Western Kentucky, which they did to the tune of 42-9.
Having added so much golf to a time of year that is usually light, Tom might be expected to have a quiet start to 2012, but that’s not the case. “I’ll play the first three (Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Sony Open, Humana Challenge), but after that, I’ll take a break.”