Date: November 30, 2013
Author: John Huggan at Royal Sydney Golf Club

Huggan: Two down, one to go for Adam

How deliciously appropriate. On St. Andrews Day, a Scot(t) leads the Australian Open. Which is not so surprising either, of course. For the last four weeks, Adam Scott has dominated golf and headlines in his homeland in a manner unheard of since Greg Norman enjoyed his considerable pomp. And tomorrow the newly-anointed Aussie PGA and Masters champion will go for his third win from the four only the World Cup of Golf eluded him – a feat that would successfully complete the Aussie Triple Crown only Robert Allenby (in 2005) has annexed in a single season. Should it happen and the gifted Scott does secure his national Open title for the second time in three years, it will represent an enormously impressive feat, even for a reigning major champion who doubles as the second-ranked player on the planet. Nothing is certain though. Adrenaline is undoubtedly a powerful fuel, but both physically and especially mentally, the 33-year old Queenslander must surely be close to running on empty. So this thing isn t over. Not yet. Competitive golf is always a stressful business for all concerned, but playing with the pressure to win is doubly so. Throw in the expectancy of an adoring nation and the psychological challenge is the most potent barrier to Scott s eventual success, never mind the not insignificant matter of seeing off his nearest challenger, former US Open and PGA champion, Rory McIlroy, in the process. All in all, the final 18-holes are unlikely to represent an easy ride. Not surprisingly, however, Scott was making positive noises in the wake of his third round 68. And why not – the four-short edge he enjoys over McIlroy is an obvious asset, as is the support of an ever-growing gallery eager to hail a homegrown champion. It’s an exciting position to be in, he said. The crowds have been fantastic. It’s nice to see everyone so excited about watching Rory. It’s been an incredible month for the game down here. There s so much positive to look forward to. Speaking of which, I obviously have a great chance to win tomorrow and clinch the Triple Crown. Which is unbelievable. If you had told me a month ago I d be in this position I wouldn t have believed you. Before this, I d never won two events in a row, never mind three. But a lot can still happen. I ve got a phenomenon behind me and he ll throw a lot at me. I need to do a couple of things better tomorrow. My swing has felt a little off all week. I ve missed a few fairways. So I need to figure that out. Chipping out from under trees I snot how you win tournaments on Sunday. Still, it is the obvious confidence he has in his much-improved technique that will make Scott hardest to catch. Even when (occasionally) out of position, his extended run of form understandably has him exuding a quiet air of totally assured confidence. Little or no encouragement is thus offered to opponents. In other words, McIlroy is going to have to go out and beat Scott; on current form, the leader isn t likely to beat himself. That fact was obvious on the last green, where Scott holed from maybe five feet for a closing birdie, then watched as McIlroy missed from a foot or so closer. That was huge, said Scott. If it had gone the other way I d only be two-shots in front. Those can go in one hole. Four shots give me a bit of a buffer and means he has to do something special to catch me. I ll sleep a little easier with that in mind.