Adam Scott is back as a force in world golf, unequivocally.
Scott did not win the Memorial Tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village in Ohio today, but he went out in the last group, shot a four-under par 68, and outplayed the 54-hole leader, Germany’s former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, quite comfortably.
That everyone was reeled in by Patrick Cantlay’s magnificent, closing 64, was incidental to what is happening for the 38-year-old Australian.
Californian Cantlay was in another league, shooting the lowest final round by the winner in the tournament’s history and telling his good friend Nicklaus behind the 18th green: “I finished it.”
Nicklaus, the greatest of them all, has had much to do with the gifted Cantlay, whose difficulty in finishing has cost him dearly in the past, this being just his second victory.
As for Scott, he quickly birdied the first, then bogeyed the third and it was not long before he was four shots off the lead. But heating up on the back nine, he hit it to a metre at the 14th for a tap-in birdie, got up and down from a greenside trap at the par-five 15th for another birdie and by the time he rolled in a long, curling, downhiller for another birdie at the 16th he was back in the mix.
What he needed was help from Cantlay in the group ahead, but it did not come. At the 17th, Scott hit a magnificent, cutting four-iron from 200 metres to the back right pin and his birdie putt from four metres burned the hole. Then Cantlay got himself up and down from the trap at the par-four 18th to post eight-under, holing out from two metres to all but finish it.
Scott, in the fairway on the 18th, then knew that he had to hole out for eagle from 150 metres to force a playoff. Par was the best he could do at the end of a week when his ball-striking and putting have both been world class, and he finished outright second at 17-under, two shots behind Cantlay.
:It's tough on the PGA Tour. Shoot 20 under or don't think about winning," Scott said later. "It's disappointing not to win, for sure. I really played good golf this week and it just wasn't good enough. I've got to be a little bit better."
Likely to be back into the top 20 in the world when this week’s rankings arrived, he looks to be in a great place after a period through 2017 and 2018 when he appeared to be declining as a player. It is his fifth top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season already.
It was a good week for the Australians. Marc Leishman, who has recently been troubled by back soreness, finished top-five at 12-under par in a nice lead-up to the US Open at Pebble Beach, and Aaron Baddeley was tied-22nd.