• Out of Bounds

Scott puts demons to rest in time for renewed major tilt

ESPN staff
November 21, 2012
Adam Scott triumphed against Ian Poulter in Melbourne © Getty Images

If you needed any further reminder that golf is a funny old game, then Sunday afternoon at the Australian Masters should have done the trick.

After the opening three rounds of the tournament at Kingston Heath, two front-runners had emerged to challenge for the trophy (and the unappetising mustard jacket that comes with it). On the one hand you had Ian Poulter, mastermind of perhaps the most memorable golfing moment of 2012 and absolute demon in matchplay situations.

And on the other, staring down that challenge, you had Adam Scott - lead actor in indisputably the most spectacular meltdown of 2012, hoping to get his first win of the year with both the support and pressure of a home crowd to witness it.

All signs pointed to Poulter - the defending champion, did we mention that? - cruising to the win, but it was he who was crushed, as Scott ran away with a five-shot triumph. In the process he continued an impressive record of claiming a professional win every year since 2001 - something not even Tiger Woods can claim any more.

While that was important, mostly the win was about putting to bed any lingering pain from what happened at this year's Open Championship - where Scott bogeyed the final four holes to hand Ernie Els the Claret Jug.

Scott remains majorless in his career - and, considering the amount of other wins he has now accumulated, must be among the dreaded 'best player never to win a major' ranks - and, in the end, it seemed at Royal Lytham like that pressure was too much for him.

Scott earned plaudits for how he responded to his demise in its aftermath, something he now attributes to shock.

"I didn't feel bad. I honestly felt like I'd played like I won," he said this week, in an interesting interview with Golf Magazine. "Even bogeying the last four holes wasn't like shocking stuff, really.

"It was just one of those things where I didn't win from such a good position, and I was just a bit shocked by the whole outcome, I guess. When you're in shock, you don't have too much feeling. Initially it wasn't heartbreaking.

"I've seen Ernie a few times with the jug since and that's a little harder to swallow. I almost pictured it in my mind that I was going to be holding it."

Davies suffers painful late demise

  • The end of the season sees sobering reminders of the unpredictable nature of professional golfing careers - and one was provided this time by Rhys Davies, who missed out on his European Tour card for 2013 by less than £700.
  • The Welshman - possessing an enviable putting stroke, often seen as half the battle at the highest levels of the game - was regarded as a star of the future back in 2010, with a tour win already under his belt. He was even invited by captain Colin Montgomerie to follow the European team from behind the scenes at the Ryder Cup - partly because of his nationality (the event taking place at Celtic Manor), but mainly because it was considered likely he would qualify for many of the events in future and the experience would really help him.
  • Yet, two seasons on, he faces the lottery of Q-school to get back to the big leagues. That might prove the hardest competition he has faced of all...

If Scott was to fully heal after that traumatic experience, however, he needed to get back into the winner's circle - so doing so last week in Melbourne could prove imperative to his chances of finally getting that major monkey off his back in 2013.

He can perhaps be more confident than, say, Luke Donald about his chances of achieving the goal almost all golfers dream of - unlike the Englishman, he has made a bit of a habit of making cuts and getting into the mix in the biggest events.

While his Open campaign this year stands out as his strongest display, he very nearly won The Masters in 2011 - Charl Schwartzel's four birdies in the final four holes ultimately snatching away that fairytale.

"I'm pretty sure that won't be my last chance at a major," Scott said last week.

"The only way I can combat that is get out quick and win the Masters next year. I've had good results at the Masters the past few years; I need to pick up on that, pick up on the good stuff from the last two majors I've played, and try and win one quick so I don't have to answer questions about Lytham for the next 20 years."

Golf is anything but predictable - Scott must know that better than anyone after the year he has had. But the Australian has proven a consistent performer at the highest level and, after proving to himself he can get the job done once more, might just be primed to set the record straight in 2013.

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