I'm on right track despite British Open collapse, says Adam Scott
Despite Australian's ugly finish at Royal Lytham, he felt the meltdown showed he was on right track and had the goods to clinch a major
Adam Scott can understand why so many people thought he would have a hard time overcoming his epic collapse in the British Open.
They did not understand his master plan of trying to improve his standard of play instead of just trying to get better results.
Ernie Els walked away from Royal Lytham & St Annes with the silver Claret Jug. Scott walked away believing he finally was capable of winning a major, and it was not just a pep talk to soothe the shock over losing a four-shot lead with four holes to play.
"I think if I sat there and watched someone else do what I did, it would have been devastating," Scott said. "It's maybe more apparent to me now that you were all surprised that I wasn't just shattered. But honestly, that's not how I felt."
In a decision that reshaped his career, Scott decided two years ago to play a limited schedule and practise smarter so he would be ready for the biggest events.
That Sunday afternoon at the British Open, despite the ugly finish, showed him he was on the right track. He promised that day the next time he would finish the job.
Scott's story had a happy ending.
At his hideaway in the Bahamas, the Australian starts each day by slipping on the green jacket he won at Augusta National two months ago, when he made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and then another birdie in the rain on the second play-off hole to win the Masters.
Except that Scott does not see this as the end.
He is among the favourites when the US Open begins tomorrow at Merion, a course that was soaked by more rain yesterday. Scott will be part of the feature group in the opening two rounds, playing alongside Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy - numbers one, two and three in the world rankings.
Scott has been part of this routine before. The first time the USGA put together the top three players in the world was at Torrey Pines in 2008 - Woods and San Diego native Mickelson at one and two, and Scott feeling very much out of place.
"I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week," Scott said. "Remembering back to Torrey Pines, the hype was enormous around that pairing. There was so much talk about it being Phil's hometown and Tiger dominating Torrey for years. It was an experience I'll never forget. I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere."
"I'm probably also the third wheel this week, as well," Scott said with a laugh.
Woods still drives the show in the sport, already a four-time winner on tour this year, as he tries to end his five-year drought in the majors.
McIlroy, a major champion each of the last two years, is in one of his slumps and has yet to win this year.
Scott, meanwhile, is trying to join some elite company. Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan are the only players in the past 60 years to have won the Masters and US Open in the same season.
And while every Masters champion has that opportunity, Scott is good enough to make the quest realistic. "I can't lie to you - I do feel a lot better coming here, even discussing that kind of thing," Scott said. "It's a good feeling to come here to know that I've achieved that. I've got my first major. And my sights are definitely set on trying to win more."
The biggest star could be Merion, hosting the US Open for the first time since 1981. And the course at the moment is sharing the stage with Mother Nature.
Merion received more than 8mm of rain on Friday, which left it unplayable on Saturday. Even as players were getting started on Monday morning, more sheets of rain began to fall. Some of the bunkers were flooded, and the course was closed until 11am. A little more than three hours later, the rain returned.
The only activity on the course was workers using squeegees to remove small pools of water from the greens and some fairways. The thick rough was wet, mangled and muddied. Even as players tried a third time to practise, dark clouds loomed and more rain was on the way.
Woods returned to hit pitch shots from short of the 18th green. There was not much work to get in. Scott had wanted to play seven rounds at Merion leading to the US Open, so he was glad he showed up a week ago.
"I've had three full rounds and that's taken my time trying to figure everything out," Scott said.
"I think I've got a pretty good idea where I'm going to try to go. Obviously, with it being a little soft, it becomes a little more simple than what it was. The ball is just going to stop where it lands. So if you're accurate, you'll be fine."