Date: December 01, 2013
Author: By Martin Blake At Royal Sydney

Blake: ‘Gutted’ Scott falls at the final hurdle

Adam Scott was &apos&aposgutted&apos&apos. At the end of a long haul, four consecutive tournaments in which he carried Australian golf to a place that it has rarely been, he was undone by human frailty. With a hole to play in the Emirates Australian Open he had a lead of one shot over Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, and his piercing two iron shot off the tee found the 18th fairway. But here, it all unravelled. All the talk of the last few weeks, about the triple crown and the world No. 1 spot and everything that comes with it, fell apart. Scott took a short iron and blasted his second on to the back of the green. It bounced hard and trickled down into a collection area behind the putting surface. With a back pin, it was the last place he needed to go. It was a mental error that would cost him the Open. One club too much. “To make an error up the last and open the door for Rory, I was trying to keep it closed all day the best I could,&apos&apos he said. “I just misjudged into the last and a player as good as Rory is going to take that opportunity.&apos&apos With thousands of people surrounding the magnificent 18th green at Royal Sydney, Scott watched McIlroy deliver with an iron to five metres from the flag. Then the Queenslander walked down into the swale a few metres below the putting surface and hit an awful, &aposskinny&apos chip. Scott perhaps could have putted up the slope; he went for the perfect shot with a lob wedge and it skuttled past the flag and 20 metres beyond. Two putts later he was in for bogey and McIlroy, who had thought himself a chance of a playoff an instant earlier, would have a chance to win. He did not let it pass. Not for no reason was he world No 1 not so long ago. Scott was magnanimous. He told McIlroy that he had earned the win. But it was a horrible way for his triumphal march through his native land to end. It was so very golf! He was left with regrets. That he could have 35 putts on a day when his ball-striking had finally returned to its usual precision. That he could miss eight putts from inside three metres, have three lip-outs, and miss from close range for birdies at the 16th and 17th greens with putts that possibly would have buried his opponent. He shot 71 on the day to McIlroy&aposs brilliant 66. It was not quite enough. “Nothing was going my way on the greens today,&apos&apos he said. “I could have put this thing away, I think, early on if the putter was behaving how it should have, like it did the rest of the week. “I just slightly misread a few. I overplayed the break. I missed a lot of putts on the high side, hitting good putts, just didn&apost quite have the eye in. It always gets a little trickier on Sunday.&apos&apos The Australian admitted that it hurt. “Absolutely. It does it on a daily basis to everyone out here. It was going to be a tough day no matter what. Rory made his move and I just couldn&apost knock in the putts you expect to make. I made them all week but slight misreads and not quite the right pace. Didn&apost quite match up. Just as he was at Royal Lytham in 2012 when four closing bogeys gifted the Open Championship to Ernie Els, Scott remained philosophical and calm. “It&aposs been a great year. Obviously I didn&apost want to finish like that. But if I didn&apost play any good the first three days and played great today and finished second I&aposd be pretty chuffed going into Christmas. That&aposs how I should look at it. I&aposll get over this tonight and look forward to a few weeks&apos rest and look forward to next year. “I just made an error on the last, I misjudged the wind. I hit too much club into the last. That&aposs the way it goes. I felt I did everything right. I was concerned about how I was going to hit it today because I haven&apost been swinging the club really good the last two weeks, and I played really nice. The putter didn&apost behave itself. It&aposs just the way golf is. I&aposm gutted. I felt like I&aposve never had a better chance to win the Aussie Open, but it was tight the whole back nine, and Rory played so good.&apos&apos Scott was off to catch an aeroplane out of Australia, having lost no admirers. Undoubtedly to catch a few surf breaks. He will resume playing in Hawaii in January before another break. He has behaved like Mr Perfect this past month. But perfection and golf are words that don&apost go together.