FORT WORTH, Texas – By the time Adam Scott woke up Monday morning at his home in the Bahamas, it was official. He had supplanted Tiger Woods at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking. It had been 16 years, 4 months, or 5,971 days, since an Aussie – Greg Norman – held the No. 1 spot. Later that evening, Scott’s friends invited him over for dinner and popped the cork on a bottle of Dom Perignon to celebrate his becoming the 17th golfer to No. 1.
“The cork and wrapping have been sent off to be kind of carved in sterling silver and engraved, which is a very nice touch and was really nice of them to do that,” Scott said. “It was things like that along with receiving messages of congratulations and messages from my family and friends that made me get out of my own way and realize that it really is an incredible achievement.”
Now it is back to work this week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. The world-ranking formula may say he’s No. 1, but the truth is Scott hasn’t played like it of late. He is winless on Tour, with three top 10s in seven Tour starts this season, and blew a seven-stroke lead at Bay Hill in March.
“My goal here is obviously to get in contention, but I have to try to find that nice rhythm on the course,” he said.
All season, Scott had downplayed the importance of reaching No. 1. And the fact that he failed to do so between the ropes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Masters and The Players? He said it did not diminish the accomplishment, in his eyes.
“Sure, it would have been nice, but all the playing I did added up to this anyway,” Scott said. “It’s just the way the system works.”
That same system could strip him of the title as soon as this week. Woods remains sidelined indefinitely but breathing down Scott’s neck are Henrik Stenson, who is playing the BMW PGA Championship, and Matt Kuchar, in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, both of whom could vault to No. 1 this week.
“It’s cool it is attainable,” Kuchar said. “I think to be able to say for a while that you were the best in the world is pretty awesome.
Woods had a stranglehold on the No. 1 spots for so long – 11 different times for a total of 683 weeks – that everyone else was playing for second, said Jim Furyk, who once held the No. 2 spot.
“Instead of being like a baby step to No. 1, it was three giant leaps, a hop, skip and a jump and hop in the car for another mile to catch where Tiger was,” Furyk said jokingly.
Then there is the pressure associated with having the bulls-eye on one’s back. Martin Kaymer, who won The Players earlier this month, had an eight-week run at the top after winning the 2010 PGA Championship, but said he never felt deserving of the honor.
“A lot of people think it’s a good feeling to be No. 1 in the world and it makes you very proud,” Kaymer said at The Players. “It’s nice to be up there, but it comes with a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations from others and subconsciously from yourself.”
Scott plans to do all he can to make his reign last longer than a cup of coffee. Longer than Tom Lehman, who topped the charts for one week, and closer to his childhood idol, Norman, who lasted for 333 weeks, would suffice.
“I’m going to have to work pretty hard to stay on top,” Scott said, “but part of coming here this week was to play as the No. 1 golfer in the world and enjoy if for at least a week, hopefully, and from there we’ll see what happens.”