Date: January 03, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

He’s back! Scott tees it up in Hawaii

Adam Scott&aposs 2014 quest to seize the world No. 1 ranking starts … now! The Australian kicks off his United States PGA Tour season when he plays in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii beginning tomorrow, a limited field event of 30 players who won tournaments last year. Although he has not played since he was pipped at the finish line of the Emirates Australian Open by Rory McIlroy last month, Scott has a great opportunity over the next fortnight, in which he will also play the Sony Open in Honolulu. The reasons are plain. Firstly, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and McIlroy are not in Hawaii, having declined the $US5.7 million event as they enjoy extended breaks. Secondly because neither Woods nor Scott played at Kapalua last year, every point the world No. 2 earns will eat into Woods&apos lead as No. 1. Currently Woods has 11.69 points to Scott&aposs 9.60 under the two-year rolling system that governs the world rankings. It is a substantial margin, but as an indication of how much ground he made up in his brilliant finish to the year back at home in Australia, those numbers were Woods 14.18 to Scott 9.36 at the start of September. For it to happen, Scott needs to have a year similar to last year, when he won the Masters at Augusta National, a playoff event in America and then consecutive tournaments at home. He has never had a four-win season before (it was six if you count the made-for-television PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, and his team victory at the World Cup with Jason Day at Royal Melbourne). And of course it also depends on what sort of year Woods has. The world No. 1 won five times last year and will of course guard his ground fiercely. Recently he announced he was having some time off with his family and to support his girlfriend Lindsay Vonn, the American Olympic downhill skier who has been recovering from a bad knee injury. The other issue is that as expected, Scott is about to take a break himself. In Hawaii over the past few days it emerged that he is planning a six-week break starting after the Sony Tournament, which follows the pattern of his past three seasons except for the fact that he is skipping the World Golf Championship matchplay event, a big one that he has not missed since 2002. Scott has been knocked out of the matchplay in the opening round three times in a row. But the bigger picture is that since 2011 he has opted out of quite a few early-year tournaments to keep himself fresh for the majors, beginning at Augusta in April, and the tour playoffs in August-September. For instance last year the Queenslander played just 16 PGA Tour events, compared to the 20 he played in 2010, the last season before he made the change. It has been highly successful for him, and he has moved into the Tiger Woods space where so long as he plays well, he does not need to play too many events. “I don&apost think I can set a schedule to focus on being No. 1 in the world,” Scott told the Associated Press this morning. “It can only be a byproduct of everything else I do. It&aposs no small feat. The guy who&aposs had a stronghold on it for a long time doesn&apost like giving that spot up much. “I mean, look, for 10 years it wasn&apost even a consideration. He was just playing at another level. But it&aposs such a long career. He&aposs going to play at a level that no one ever has for that long. “But he has different levels of being No. 1, and this is just slightly different,” Scott said. “And the game has changed a bit. He&aposs still No. 1. It&aposs a hard spot to get to. Maybe if I play like I have for another 12 months, I might sneak in there. But it&aposs not something I can focus on.” Kapalua is a fun event with some monster holes. The 18th, a downhill 606-metre par-five, produces some of the longest driving in the world, where the ball runs for half a minute. The Plantation Course also has some of the tour&aposs biggest greens, and Scott tends to hit plenty, so it might come down to his putter again. “My goal is to win majors – and now I can say `majors&apos and not just one,” Scott said. “I think I&aposm heading in the right direction. I don&apost want to change too much from last year.” The Tournament of Champions is a Friday-Monday event (US Time), making it Saturday-Tuesday Australian time. Scott, who is the only Australian in the field, hits off at 9.50 AEST tomorrow (Saturday) with Dustin Johnson. Fox Sports has live coverage.