AUGUSTA, Ga. – Adam Scott is back at the Masters, this time as defending champion and menu director. So let’s start with the interesting stuff: Bugs. Not bugs in his game. Bugs on his plate.
Because he won last year, Scott gets to decide the cuisine at Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner. He’s going with an Australian barbecue theme. With a splash of bugs, that is.
“The bugs are here,” Scott announced proudly.
Lest you think the second-ranked golfer in the world is an entomologist or insect lover, be advised he is not, at least as sustenance is concerned. The bugs he is serving tonight are none other than Moreton Bay Bugs, a high-priced Australian crustacean that looks something like a lobster tail.
He picked the bugs because they are among his favorite foods back home and he wanted to share an Aussie dish with his mates in the exclusive club. He understands, however, that perhaps the eyebrows of the likes of Doug Ford, 91, and Charlie Coody, 76, might be raised upon reading the fare.
“Hopefully the other guys can get past the name and enjoy a nice bit of our seafood from home,” Scott said, smiling.
The other owners of green jackets should be happy to know that these are no run-of-the-mill bugs. They’re the real things, imported from Moreton Bay, near Brisbane.
“They are legitimate bugs,” said Scott, drawing laughter while unable to conceal a smile. “The real deal. I’m not going to serve up anything second-rate tonight. I’ve got to go all-out to impress these guys.”
I’m sure he will, but you can imagine the dinner-table conversation:
Ford to Coody: “Charlie, how do those damn bugs taste?”
Coody to Ford: “Is that what I’ve been eating!? I thought it was some sort of shrimp. Save my seat while I go to the men’s room and spit them out.”
Tommy Aaron, 77, to Ford: “What’s with ol’ Charlie? He’s sprinting out of here like his mouth is on fire. I’ve never seen him move that fast.”
Ford: “Oh, he just ate some bugs, that’s all. He’ll live. I mean, he got over that monkey-gland sauce (Charl) Schwartzel gave us a couple of years ago.”
Scott said decided not to serve anything too exotic, like kangaroo or crocodile, because he didn’t think the fellas would appreciate it. So they’re getting Surf ’n’ Turf ’n’ Bugs instead.
As for his golf game, Scott doesn’t appear to have any bugs or kinks. He had a hiccup in his last PGA Tour round, a 76 in blowing a three-shot 54-hole lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. But while he knows he needs to close better, he seems well over that mess. His game is sharp enough that he can supplant Tiger Woods as No. 1 in the world this week.
At the moment, the affable Australian is lapping up all the perquisites that go with being defending champion. He played Augusta National with his father, Phil, on Friday and Sunday. He looked around the champions’ locker room as if he were a little kid. He called each experience a “dream come true.” And now he can’t wait to break bread with the decorated cast of characters tonight.
Among other things, Scott learned this week that it is customary to share a locker with another past champion. His space happens to be commingling with Gary Player. Scott likes that, with one exception.
“(Player) gets a lot of mail,” he said, drawing laugher. “But we make it work. My stuff’s kind of scattered around a bit on the floor.”
More joy was had walking over the rolling hills and through the towering pines with dad, a golf professional who has turned to course design. Phil Scott said beforehand that playing the National with his famous kid would be the highlight of his golfing life.
“I think it lived up to his expectations,” the son said.
Father seconds the notion. Of course, they relived Scott’s highlight-reel moments from last year, trying to replicate those birdie putts he made on the 72nd hole and on No. 10 in the playoff. It helped that on two trips through Amen Corner, Nos. 11-13, Phil Scott made six pars.
What did he shoot?
“Happily I didn’t take the pencil,” the elder said, smiling. “But it was probably in the low 80s.”
No matter the score, he came away with a greater appreciation for the skill his son and other elite players possess.
“It made me realize how good these guys are because the course can make a fool out of you, and it did me,” the playful father said.
Next up for the 33-year-old son is the task of fastening the game face and putting the frolic aside come Wednesday. He’s here, after all, do do an important job. Not only does the No. 1 carrot dangle, he can join the exclusive club of back-to-back winners that consists of Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
“I want to enjoy (everything), but I also want to really get my head into playing well this week because I think I’m in good form,” Scott said. “I think I’ll be ready to get inside the ropes and compete. . . . I don’t think any of the responsibilities are so draining that it’s going to cost you having a good week out on the golf course.”
Particularly if the bugs digest well.
Scott will tee off Thursday in the company of U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, a 19-year-old who looks like he’s about 12. The pairing prompted Scott to look back at his first Masters in 2002, when he was grouped with 1979 champion Fuzzy Zoeller.
“He was whistling off the first tee,” Scott reported, drawing yet more laughter. “I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but it was certainly more light-hearted than I thought. Unfortunately for Matthew, I’m not going to be whistling off the first tee, so he’ll have to find another way to calm down.”