Date: August 07, 2013
Author: Martin Blake /

Preview: Scott takes on raging Tiger at PGA

Adam Scott is going back to the future this week. Ten years ago, as a burgeoning young professional, he played the United States PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the venue for this week s PGA, and performed well. It was just his seventh major championship, and he was 23. A decade on, he still seems young, but he notices the passing of time. Ten years is a long time and I&aposve played a lot of golf and I feel like a completely different golfer, Scott said at Oak Hill today. I had forgotten that I was even in the mix (in 2003), but I think it was one of the first majors where I kind of went into the weekend thinking oh, if I have a good weekend, I could actually win this . He finished tied-23rd that weekend, and it took him another 10 years to win a major, his drought breaking at Augusta National just a few months ago. Experience counts for a lot, obviously. You know, so many things are different between now and 10 years ago, that you just evolve as a golfer and mature, hopefully, as a golfer and get better. That&aposs what I&aposve always tried to do and all of those things have added up to me being in the last few years a much more consistent performer than 10 years ago. Oak Hill is one of America s great, old courses, and the PGA returns to the venue this week for the final major of the season. Scott, the world No. 5 and one of the favourites again, loves the venue. Oak Hill is right up there, he said. I think there&aposs nothing fancy or tricky about it. It&aposs just a good, genuine, fair test, is a great way to describe it. It&aposs right there in front of you. You&aposre not really going to get a bad break for hitting a good shot out here. The good shots will be rewarded and the bad shots will be fairly punished, depending on how bad you hit it. It&aposs going to be one of the best courses that we set foot on all year, and it should be ranked very highly just generally. It&aposs a pleasure to play a golf course like this. The Australian s recent record in majors points to his being a factor this week. In the 11 majors since the start of 2011, he has six top-10 finishes including his groundbreaking win in the Masters, the most consistent record of any player. He was close at Augusta in 2011, when Charl Schwarzel s run of four closing birdies denied him, and his own frailty at Royal Lytham cost him the British Open Championship in 2012, where he was runner-up. At this year s Open at Muirfield, the most recent major, he held the lead until deep into the final day, when four consecutive bogeys undid him. Today, he said he was more disappointed with his fade-out at Muirfield than he was at Royal Lytham in 2012, despite that being a more spectacular crash (he bogeyed the final four holes to lose to Ernie Els). But Scott never let Lytham get to him; it is the key factor in his ability to plough on beyond that. I think I was probably more disappointed at The Open this year than last, he said. I worked really hard to get myself in a position with nine holes to go, because I got off to a slow start on Sunday, and I felt that I had a bit of momentum going my way, and in the space of about 45 minutes, to go from leading to not even having a chance on the 16th tee was more disappointing, probably more so than at Lytham. There are eight Australians in the field Scott, Jason Day, John Senden, Marcus Fraser, Marc Leishman, Geoff Ogilvy, Brett Rumford and Matt Jones. Scott tees off at 3.30 am Friday (Australian eastern time) with Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson in the first round. But they may all be chasing a rampant Tiger Woods, whose win in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone last weekend was his fifth of a big season. Woods is putting like he used to all of a sudden; the fact he has had another informal lesson from his friend and fellow-professional Steve Stricker is probably not great news for the rest of the field. Stricker, arguably the best putter in the world, practised with Woods at Oak Hill today. The last time he gave Woods a tip on his short game, at Doral for the World Golf Championship earlier this year, Woods dominated. Steve and I were talking about putting, and some of the things that he likes to believe and he feels, said Woods. I&aposve actually got to flip it around because he feels everything in his left hand and I feel everything in my right hand, but we believe in how the blade swings and how it moves. I wanted him to take a look at my angles of my shoulders and my arms, facial rotation, things of that nature. You just have to think in reverse with him, because obviously everything is based on his left hand and everything for me in my putting is based on my right hand. Oak Hill s rough is deep, and Phil Mickelson, who is also expected to be a contender, does not intend to have a driver in his bag. Scott will certainly use driver, but sparingly, and Woods said he might use the big dog as few as two times a round. Scott is ready, and he says the next 10 years should be his best. Well, it has to be the best golf of my career, really. If it&aposs not, then I won&apost achieve anything that I want. You know, I kind of figured that out over the last couple years as I made changes and saw improvement. There was a clear path for me going forward, and then it&aposs quite easy to see what you have to do when your plan starts working out.