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Adam Scott: Looking Good

Adam Scott
Steve Read
"Your career is defined by how many majors you've won."

Perched near the very top of the World Ranking, high up on a ledge dangling his feet over the head of Vijay Singh [ranked 12th] and nipping at the shirttails of Phil Mickelson [second], sits major-less Adam Scott, the young Aussie golfer you might more readily associate with his impressive Burberry threads than his devastating long-iron play. Ranked No. 6 in the world, Scott is playing at the level of superstardom. And though he's won a few important tournaments and consistently finds himself in the top 10s and even the top 3s, he's yet to etch a serious mark on a serious trophy. Eight years on Tour with five wins but no major, no big victory for the homeland that's been waiting for an ascendant to the throne since Scott's idol, Greg Norman, stepped down. But no worries, mate: fellow Aussie and close friend Geoff Ogilvy lifted the burden off Scott's back at Winged Foot in 2006. That doesn't mean Scott's resting easy; he's in that awkward limbo between being promising and proving he was worth the promise. He may like his pints and his lazy wave riding on the beaches by his Australian home, but this kid's got some gold to claim for his country if he wants to be, as he says he does, "the greatest Australian golfer."

Can you pinpoint the day you decided you wanted to be a pro golfer? I wanted to be a pro golfer since I was 6 or 7, watching Greg Norman play in the Masters every year, with '87 being my first big memory of it. But I was interested in all other kinds of sports at that point, too. I quit tennis when I was about 12, and then I only played golf after that.

What's your biggest regret in the game? A tournament when you didn't play your hardest? To be honest, I don't have too many regrets; I think being a young player you have to look at your mistakes as learning experiences rather than beating yourself up. But that gets old to a point [laughs]. You want to win more, you want to do better.

So where did you think you could have done better? Off the top of my head, I think maybe last year, the [2006] Barclays Classic at Westchester. I was disappointed I didn't win that event. I was leading by one with five to go and I finished second [to Vijay Singh]. Yeah, that was a shame.

What went wrong? I don't know, maybe it was a bit of a mental lapse. Maybe just taking it a bit too easy out there, not focusing enough. You know, there's a fine line between trying too hard and not trying hard enough.

You've never been ranked higher than you were this year [Scott has been as high as No. 4 in the World Golf Rankings]. You're in your eighth season as a Tour pro and there's been a lot of hype about you being the next big thing, and you've won a couple of big ones, but the majors are what define legends. And while you've played well in a few of them, you haven't exactly had Tiger and Phil shaking in their boots. So, do you accept that you're a veteran player now, and beyond the phase where, as so many players like to say, 'I'm still learning how to win'? Oh yeah, I think I am beyond that. But you know, I've won over 10 tournaments around the world and on various tours and I've won a couple of big events on the PGA Tour. But I definitely agree: your career is defined by how many majors you've won, and at the end of the day, that's really all you're going to be remembered for. No one's going to remember if I won 15 Tour events unless I win a major or two. Certainly that's what we're playing for. But I do expect, in the future, to know what to do when I get in a position to win one.

Where do you see yourself ending up in the history books alongside your contemporaries — among whom you must count Tiger, who's only five years older? [Laughs] Right, well, I'm gonna be a long way behind Tiger in the history books. But that's OK.

It's OK? See, he's set unrealistic expectations on everyone's part. For us he's set unrealistic expectations because I was 16 when he turned pro, and I thought I'd be able to do what he did. But I realized pretty quick once I got out here that that wasn't going to happen. And he also set unrealistic expectations on the part of the media for the next crop of young guys, and that included me, and the world expected us to be just like Tiger. And all of us young guys who were hyped, there's about 10 of us probably, I think we realized it was unrealistic to try to match Tiger. I certainly did.

Do you ever wish he wasn't playing? No. I really don't. I think it's great for the game and it's a good challenge. And you know, he wins a lot, but he doesn't win every time. So we have a chance to beat him. And you know, as long as I'm in the history books, that's all that matters [laughs].

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