Forget the rain that seemed inevitable. The aspect to Saturday’s weather that made Adam Scott feel uncomfortable was the cold.
“I’m freezing,” Scott said as he walked down the third fairway, and indeed, the Aussie still wore a sweater to fight the chill.
The thing is, Scott may have been the only one at East Lake Golf Club bundled up like that. The morning, after all, had started warm and humid. You just wouldn’t have known it by looking at Scott. He moved slowly, almost gingerly, and seemed to be battling more than a demanding golf course in the third round of the Tour Championship.
Turns out, he was. Turns out, Henrik Stenson wasn’t the most formidable foe Scott faced. Ill health would have beaten the Aussie, 7 and 6.
“It’s very disappointing to wake up feeling like that. I felt really flat and not in a good way,” Scott said.
Having felt a bit groggy and weak in the legs during Friday’s second round, Scott had dinner and retired early, hoping he’d feel refreshed and rested for Saturday’s third round. He knew he would need it, given that he was in second place, four strokes behind Stenson, but still very much alive for the tournament title and FedEx Cup crown. Unfortunately, though, things did not play out that way; Scott woke Saturday feeling even worse.
Rather than pounding balls on the range for an hour before his 9 a.m. tee time, Scott was receiving intravenous fluids from the medical crew. It at least prevented a WD.
“Without the doc’s help this morning, I definitely wouldn’t have been going,” he said.
But he eventually took a few warmup swings, just to make sure he could play, rolled a few putts, and was at the first tee with Stenson and Jordan Spieth on time.
He promptly was wide right at the first fairway, wedged it out, hit his third shot to 18 feet, and two-putted for bogey.
Turns out, his day would not get any better.
On the strength of a 65-69 start, Scott started Round 3 as the closest challenger to Stenson, but when he bogeyed the first and third holes, then doubled the fifth, he was 2 under and a whopping 10 behind the Swede, who birdied Nos. 2 and 3. For all intents and purposes, Scott’s bid for the tournament and the massive bonus was as likely as a gutta percha being put into play.
“It’s pretty disappointing because I felt like I could have made a run today with some good golf, and it went completely the other way,” Scott said. The bogeys at the first and third were set in motion by drives wide right, but the tee shot at the fifth was even further right – so errant, in fact, that it was lodged in bushes and required a penalty drop.
Scott went through the motions and battled as best he could, but by now it was clear that he was not himself.
“When your body’s feeling so lethargic and the club feels like it weighs 60 pounds, it’s just hard work to get anything moving. And all rhythm and everything is off when your body is feeling so poor.”
From fairway bunker to greenside bunker at the par-4 eighth, Scott made another bogey. With an outward 40, he was a mind-boggling 13 strokes off Stenson’s pace. You say ouch? Well, how about double ouch, because to make matters exponentially worse, the rain started coming down, sometimes in buckets.
Feeling sick is one thing. Feeling sick and wet is even worse. And feeling sick, wet, and having to stand witness to a third straight day of ball-striking brilliance by Stenson? Well, let’s just say that Scott will not put this third round of the 2013 Tour Championship in his personal archives of fondest memories.
Yet, he found the energy to smile.
“I started feeling good with four holes to go,” he said, and the fact is, Scott steadied the ship and played his last 10 holes in a bogey-free 1 under. Unfortunately, playing the first eight in 5 over had done irreparable damage.
With a 74, Scott finished 54 holes at 2 under 208, passed by eight players. He will start the fourth round in a share of 10th, nine off the lead. Scott might have bemoaned his bad luck, for had bad weather not arrived and forced tee times to be pushed way up, he could have had valuable sleep and an afternoon tee time. Would it have helped? Who knows? And he wasn’t wasting any of his energy to even go down that path.
After signing his card, he just seemed relieved that he could head to the locker room to dry off and get further treatment.
“It was a battle for me today, and I’m disappointed that I wasn’t at 100 percent to try and give Henrik a shake and stick with him,” Scott said. “(But) hopefully I can get rested up tonight and feel better tomorrow.”