PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Winning the Masters didn’t change Adam Scott. Not a bit. Not even in the slightest.
He wakes up every morning like he always does. He doesn’t think, “I’ve won the Masters!”
He goes into his closet every morning like he always does. He doesn’t think, “I’ve won the Masters!”
He slips on The Green Jacket and walks into the kitchen wearing it like he always…
All right, all right. Maybe that Masters deal did change a few things in Adam Scott’s world. His daily routine and his snappy new “house robe,” anyway.
“I put the green jacket on every morning, I do,” he said with a laugh. “It’s been a lot of fun just wearing it around the house. I’ve missed it the last couple of days. This is the first time I haven’t had it with me.”
The man known as Scotty pretty much beamed up after that tumultuous week in Augusta when he basked in Australia’s greatest golfing achievement, with apologies to his legendary countrymen Greg Norman and Peter Thomson. Scott normally takes five or six days off to recharge after the grind of the Masters, not touching a golf club. This year, it was more like a two full weeks. His was a very popular win. There was the matter of national pride. Even Australia’s prime minister called to offer Scott congratulations. “It was overwhelming,” Scott said.
There was the matter of waiting so long and coming so close, the heartbreak of Royal Lytham & St. Annes last summer still fresh enough. There was the matter of finally living up to all those great expectations. Even Charles Dickens had Pip aiming lower than what we expected from Scott, now 32. And there was the matter of booting that monkey off his back and removing his name from the list of Best Players Who Haven’t Won a Major. If you think that wasn’t a big deal, check in with Colin Montgomerie or Lee Westwood, who never got out from under it.
“I’ve had a really nice break,” he said. “I had planned it, anyway, but it was even better because I was floating around on clouds the last three weeks. So many people reached out to me, I was blown away. It was incredible.”
Scott is back. He’ll tee it up here at the Players, his first tournament action since the Masters last month. Give him this: He doesn’t look any different. He doesn’t seem any different. He still speaks in a measured monotone. He still smiles often, a wide smile that puts men at ease and makes women weak in the knees.
Forever changed? Scott knows better. No major champion of the last five years sounds as if he’s got his head on straighter in the aftermath.
“Maybe it’s changed in the history books because you’re writing into that book and it will never be taken out,” Scott said. “But I don’t believe so, other than that. It’s probably going to be the pinnacle of my career as the first Australian to win the Masters but it’s also not the end for me. Hopefully, it’s the start of achieving my goal to become the player that I’ve always dreamed of being. In three weeks, I’m not qualified yet to know that my life is changed forever. I think only on paper at the moment.”
He has no secret for his latest success other than hard work and perseverance. Basically, he kept confidently knocking on the door until he kicked it in.
“Golf is a very fine line, we all know that,” Scott said. “The difference between winning and not is balancing on a knife’s edge, really. Last year, I felt like I could have won three of the majors if pivotal moments went my way and I didn’t win any of them. Then I do at Augusta. You’ve just got to put those pieces of the puzzle together.
“Lytham was devastating and it did hurt but I was just so happy to be playing like that in a big tournament. That’s something that hadn’t happened much for me in my career. Just getting to that point was satisfying. I’ve won tournaments and closed well and I’ve lost a couple. The more you’re in that position, the more either of those things can happen. The most important thing is to get back in that position. That’s what I was conscious of at the Masters.”
Scott needed the last three weeks to regroup and recover mentally as much as physically from the biggest victory of his career. It was very different, he said, from the post-British Open feeling he had last summer after letting the claret jug slip through his fingers and into the hands of Ernie Els.
“There is so much elation with winning the Masters, I couldn’t get focused on golf,” Scott said. “The Open was obviously disappointing but it was a motivator and the Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship were just around the corner. I felt I’d never swung the club as well as I had at the Open. The PGA was a chance for me to go out and try to right the wrong of Lytham.”
Scott considered taking a trip home to Australia to celebrate. “Sorely tempted,” were his exact words. He wanted to share the moment with his mom and dad and sister and friends and, well, pretty much the whole country. He decided that the middle of the golf season wasn’t the time for a detour like that. Later, he said, joking, “I think we can rustle up some celebration when I get home at the end of the year.”
That celebration may be dampened by the other shoe waiting to drop. Golf’s ruling bodies are expected to announce a ban against anchored putting techniques, a controversy that’s been waging since last summer. Scott uses a long-shafted putter, or broomstick as some call it, anchored against his chest just under his chin. If the ban goes through as expected, he’ll have to change his winning technique.
“I’ll be relieved when it’s all over and we can get beyond it,” he said. “I may not like the outcome but I think we’ve all spent enough energy on it. I don’t have a backup plan. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and deal with it later.”
If he has to separate his putter “a millimeter” from his chest to conform to the rules, Scott said, he’ll do it. He sees positioning his hand slightly off his chest as his most likely solution, not switching to another style of putting entirely.
As for his increased profile back home, Scott is feeling no pressure to feel the shoes of Greg Norman. “He wasn’t just the best Aussie golfer at the time, he was number one in the world for the better part of 10 years,” Scott said. “That’s a different level than I’m at. Only my performance can dictate that. Greg was larger than life. I don’t think I’m at that point at all. Greg had a tough time in Australia, he was under a microscope and that is a tough position when you’re away all year and you want to come home and enjoy being home. He handled it very well. But we’ve got so many good players, I don’t think it needs to all fall on my shoulders, that’s for sure.”
Norman put a little extra pressure on Scott with recent comments that he thinks Scott can win more majors than any Australian in history. Peter Thomson won five British Opens. “Greg strongly believes in my ability and has always pushed me to achieve,” Scott said. “Slowly but surely, maybe I’m getting there. I don’t know how you put a number on how many majors you want to win. To win five would be a dream career. Not many guys have been able to do that lately. Other than Tiger, Nick Faldo is the only guy to have more than five since 1980. It’s a good goal to have. If I keep focused, I believe I’ve got more in me. How many more, I don’t know.”
Picking off a Masters, Scott’s first victory since the 2011 Bridgestone Invitational, sets him up with a chance to go deep this year and maybe put together a career season. The only other year Scott won twice on the PGA Tour was 2004, when he snagged the Players in March and followed it up with the now-defunct Booz Allen Classic. This course is an ideal potential springboard for him. He has played it pretty well. Besides the win, he has four other top-20 finishes, including a sixth in 2007 and an eighth in 2005, at a quirky, scoring-resistant course where pretty much nobody’s record is consistently good. He has won $2.28 million in 11 Players appearances.
“I’m looking forward to this week because I’ve had such a great run here over the years,” Scott said. “I’ve played really well here and had amazing support. I hope I can take my head out of the clouds, come back down to earth and play some good golf.”
And forget about what’s hanging in his closet.