IRVING, Texas (AP) — Adam Scott cut short a trip to Australia last year for the Byron Nelson Championship because he felt he was playing too good to stay home any longer.
Instead of wasting that good play against his mates down under, Scott returned to the PGA Tour and won.
Scott is back this week from another overseas trip to defend his championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort. Except this time, he is trying to rediscover his game – and hoping to finally make another cut.
“I need to play a lot more golf than I have,” Scott said. “Missing the cut, you don’t get to play too much golf.”
Since a runner-up finish at the Sony Open in January and two World Golf Championship events which have no cuts, Scott has missed the cut and not earned a paycheck his last five tournaments. The six-time winner had never before missed more than four PGA Tour cuts in the same season.
Even with a chip-in for eagle his final hole at The Players Championship two weeks ago, Scott missed that cut by one stroke. He also came one stroke away from playing the weekend rounds at the Masters.
“I was really close at The Players. That’s why I was grinding so hard to try and make the cut,” he said. “I just felt like, you know, if I can get that next round, I might put it all together. And I didn’t get that chance.”
Until Thursday, when he tees off at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where before he won last season he tied for third his only other appearances (2006).
Phil Mickelson withdrew Wednesday, and won’t defend his title at Colonial next week, after his wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The three-time major champion’s management company said Amy Mickelson will begin treatment with major surgery as early as the next two weeks.
“Phil made exactly the right decision,” Nelson tournament chairman Charley Spradley said. “He has handled this in just the fashion any of us would. … Our thoughts and prayers are with the extended family, all the Mickelsons and her family.”
Mickelson, No. 2 in the world rankings, had been the highest-ranked player in the Nelson field that now has only five of the top 30 players.
No. 9 Vijay Singh, the 2003 Nelson champ, tied for ninth at The Players Championship. That ended his 11-tournament streak without a top-10 finish, his longest drought since joining the PGA Tour in 1993.
It was at The Players where Scott hit a 3-wood on his final approach to set up the round-ending eagle.
“The shot that got me up to the green was definitely the best shot I’ve hit in about two months,” Scott said. “I’m pretty excited about that, so hopefully a few more swings like that.”
Scott had a three-stroke lead in the final round at the Nelson last year, but had to make a 9-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to remain in contention. Scott then beat Ryan Moore in a three-hole playoff, capping it with another birdie at No. 18, a 48-footer that rolled over two ridges and into the cup.
“It’s one of those moments in my career I’ll remember forever for sure, making a putt like that to win,” Scott said. “I’m pretty excited to play here this week. … I’m just going back out there with some good memories.”
Before the tournament last year, when for the first time since 1993 the TPC Four Seasons was the only course used, the 7,166-yard layout underwent a $10 million renovation and redesign. There will be another change in the course this year.
The fairways and rough are now filled with the desired Bermuda grass, given time to grow over the last year and eliminating the need to overseed the grounds with rye grass. And the greens are “new” no longer.
“It’ll be rolling out and playing really fast,” Chad Campbell said.
“The greens last year, they were newer obviously and I don’t remember it being as full and fast as they are,” Corey Pavin said. “The fairways are beautiful. They’re perfect.”