Rude: Scott is ultra-prepared and hungry for more
GULLANE, Scotland – Imagine for a moment that there is no green jacket in Adam Scott’s closet. In such a case, his wardrobe would be green blazers, but every golfer wants to win one and Scott, well, he needed to win one.
PHOTOS: Adam Scott at 2013 Masters
Check out photos of Adam Scott's first major victory at the 2013 Masters.
If there were no “fairy tale” Masters victory for him in April, the affable Australian would have a completely different feeling this week at the Open Championship at Muirfield. Instead of having a hop in his step, he might still be feeling a kick in his stomach. Instead of smiling his way through several Wednesday news conferences, his mood and answers would have been vastly different.
“Definitely,” said Scott, who blew a four-stroke Open lead with four consecutive closing bogeys and lost by one last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes (read about it here). “Winning the Masters took a weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to redeem myself here.”
Then he smiled yet again, looked forward instead of back and said, “But winning the Masters doesn’t get me a Claret Jug.”
The contrast between Scott now and the last time we saw him at the Open is like the difference between peace and pain. He was tearful then; he’s joyful now.
But there’s more. He is so much more equipped to win majors now. His confidence, swing and game are better than they were a year ago. Then he hoped; now he knows. Plus he’s ultra-prepared and still hungry.
“You just have to be tough coming down the stretch, and I wasn’t tough enough that day,” Scott said of his collapse.
He got over it by taking the positives out of Lytham rather than dwelling on the negative. It helped that he played an Australian Open practice round last winter with Tom Watson, who blew a couple of majors before going on to win eight.
Watson waited seven holes of that round before asking Scott what happened at the Open. Then Watson dispensed a pearl of wisdom on how he overcame misfortune in the mid-1970s.
“He said he would never let that happen again,” Scott said. “He would just be tough and want it so badly. Sometimes maybe that has to happen for you to realize that. Obviously, words coming from him I took to heart.”
Scott talks about badly wanting to win the Open, about gaining a little bit of redemption, about putting two hands on the jug instead of the one of a year ago. His focus is striking.
“This really has been the tournament I’ve been looking forward to most this year, there’s no doubt, for obvious reasons,” said Scott, who turned 33 on Tuesday.
That’s not just lip service. He’s not only talking the talk, he’s walking the walk.
Scott is so serious about this Open that he arrived at Muirfield last Tuesday, which happens to be five days before 14-time major winner Tiger Woods got here. While Woods has been playing nine daily holes so as to preserve his left elbow, Scott has been learning every inch of the place by usually playing 18 a day over what he called a “relaxed and enjoyable” week.
“It has been important for me,” Scott said of his extensive preparation. “I want to feel comfortable when I’m on every tee throughout the week in any condition. And the more I play the course, the more I’ll feel that way.”
Until the last couple of seasons, Scott underachieved in majors for years. In his first 39 majors, he had four top-10 finishes and 14 missed cuts. In his last 10, he has five top 10s, three other top 25s and one missed cut.
In other words, he has figured it out. His formula is something out of the books of guys named Nicklaus and Woods, two men who know a thing or two about winning majors: Play less, practice more and don’t play the week before a major.
“For my swing and my short game and my putting to hold up to four days of major pressure, I need to put in more time practicing rather than playing tournaments,” Scott said. “So I play a little less and I practice a bit more.”
And succeed more, he might have added.