Adam Scott convinced his best days are still ahead
Australian confident and working towards peaking for the business end of the season
Adam Scott: “I’m relatively stress-free, injury-free. I want success just as much as I wanted it before.” Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images
Adam Scott is confident his best days are still ahead, even though almost three years have passed since he enjoyed a short reign as world number one.
As he heads to this week’s Players Championship in Florida, where he burst onto the American golf scene with a win in 2004, Scott is working towards peaking for the business section of the season, after flirting with contention at the US Masters where he finished joint-ninth.
At 36, an age traditionally slightly past a player’s peak, he has peace of mind that comes with having won a major, the 2013 Masters, and believes that being largely injury-free should allow him to continue playing well for many years.
“I still feel like I’ve got a long window,” the Australian world number 11 said. “I’ve at least won my first Major. Five years ago there was definitely a sense of urgency because I hadn’t won a Major and I felt I was a good enough player to, and [was wondering] is it going to happen. I’m relatively stress-free, injury-free. I want success just as much as I wanted it before.
Scott spent 11 weeks as the world’s top-ranked player, supplanting Tiger Woods in May 2014.
Now he is trying to juggle the demands of top-level golf with family life. He has a two-year-old daughter, with Swedish wife Marie expecting their second child in August.
As much as he enjoys life at home during his time off, Scott admits to watching plenty of golf on television, and getting itchy feet when he watches his peers.
Long regarded as one of the premier long-game exponents, he says his short game has improved under the tutelage of Australian instructor Matt Ballard, even if it did not look like it at Augusta.
“My short game was really sharp the first few events, he said. At Augusta it wasn’t as good as I would have liked but I put myself in some pretty tough spots too, so it’s unfair to be too critical. I’ve definitely seen some improvement.”
Scott is significantly older than the current top five in the world, and has watched with interest as Dustin Johnson has taken a grip on the number one ranking.
Johnson won three straight starts, before finishing tied second in the Wells Fargo Championship, despite being rusty after time off recovering from a fall that hurt his back and kept him out of the US Masters.
But Scott observed that a golfer’s place in the pantheon of greats was measured over a career, not a couple of months.
“He’s in a sweet spot at the moment where everything feels very easy and free, a place where we all occasionally get to,” Scott said of Johnson.
“But you’ve got to keep it there for a few years and I did for a while but it’s slowly getting back to where I’d like it to be at the moment and hopefully I’m back up challenging for some majors soon.”
Meanwhile, American Brian Harman holed a long-range putt on the 18th to claim a one-shot victory in the Wells Fargo Championship.
A playoff looked all but certain with Johnson, Pat Perez and Harman all tied on nine under and the latter lining up a lengthy putt on 18.
But he judged it perfectly, adding a birdie to the one he had managed on 17 to post a four-under-par 68 and a four-round total of 10 under.
That was enough to bring 30-year-old Harman his second PGA Tour victory, adding to the John Deere Classic in 2014.
Patrick Reed led by one shot overnight in North Carolina but eventually finished five shots off the lead in a tie for 12th place after struggling to a 75.
Johnson set the clubhouse pace with his round of 67, which also saw him birdie 18. He was then joined by Perez, who was three under through four holes and recovered from a double bogey at 14 by birdieing two of the final three holes for a 68.
Jon Rahm finished fourth, two shots off the lead, while England’s Paul Casey was another to have a strong final round, his 68 helping him into a tie for 12th.