Date: August 28, 2013
Author: Martin Blake /

Scott in good company at TPC Boston

It’s the Tiger, Phil and Scotty Show. The three best players on the planet — at least if you are happy to take the official world golf rankings as your guide — are playing together on Friday and Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston which finishes on Monday. It is a salivating prospect as the PGA Tour playoffs for the Fedex Cup bring the American season to its conclusion. Australia s Adam Scott is at a career-best No. 2 in the world after his victory at Jersey City last weekend in The Barclays, and he will be bookended by world No. 1 Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the marquee pairing for the second of four playoff tournaments. It is heady stuff for the 33-year-old Scott, but he belongs in this company on current form. As Golf Australia s Mike Clayton observed the other day, now that he has won a major championship it is down to Scott as to whether he can join the likes of his hero Greg Norman and Peter Thomson as the greatest male players in Australian golf history. He has the talent, to be sure. The 125 from The Barclays in Jersey City is cut down to 100 players, and the cluster of Australians is down from 10 to six for the Deutsche Bank. Scott (2nd on the Fedex Cup rankings), Jason Day (16), Matt Jones (37), Marc Leishman (76), Greg Chalmers (93) and Stuart Appleby (96) are through. Leishman, Chalmers and Appleby need to get a wriggle on to get themselves to Chicago in a fortnight for the BMW Championship, where the starters will be trimmed to 70. The likes of Geoff Ogilvy, who missed a short putt at the 18th on Sunday in New Jersey to just miss the top 100 by the smallest margin, are left with regrets. So, too, is Aaron Baddeley, who was in the projected top 100 until he bogeyed the last three holes, and finished with the dubious pleasure of being 101st. Their seasons are effectively done. They have their cards for 2014, so they can pick and choose some of the remaining tournaments, or come home to Australia to prepare for the domestic season. Scott s win, on top of his Masters triumph and near-misses in the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, is further evidence of his growth. He is a career-best No. 2 in the official world rankings behind Woods, and it raises the question as to whether he might overhaul Woods and become No. 1 in the world, a notion he has doubtless pondered since he was a youth. Woods, who fought bravely at Jersey City despite a back injury, has won five times this year and is well ahead on the world rankings, 14.38 points to Scott s 9.44. Although Scott jumped a spot on this week s rankings, he actually did not make much ground on Woods because the American finished tied-second. There is another complication: it remains to be seen whether the 14-time major winner can complete the season with such a painful injury. His foundation is the major charitable beneficiary of the Deutsche Bank, leading to speculation that he will play this week. But continuing to play cannot be the recommended treatment for back spasms. In Jersey City Scott saw others fade away, and he must have felt a bit of karma as he hit balls on the range and waited. Twice in the past year he has handed the British Open to others with back nine nerves; this time, he signed his card with a share of the lead and watched at least four others blow their opportunity to overtake him. They including Justin Rose, Scott s great friend, who inexplicably three-putted the final hole after narrowly missing with a birdie putt to win the tournament, and Woods birdie putt from the fringe at the 18th to force a playoff stopped one roll short of the hole. For Scott, it was instructive that he fought through a rough patch on the Saturday, winning ugly, if you like. I was playing like a dog after 13 holes yesterday, it was horrible, he said. (I) was feeling a bit fatigued after a long Friday slog, and just the body was off, the rhythm was off, couldn&apost find anything, and somehow made three birdies and salvaged a half respectable round, but felt my tournament was really over, and I was just looking for a good finish and trying not to slip down these FedExCup points. But there you go. You&aposre never out of it and you never know what can happen. Again, it&aposs proof, and I&aposve been on the only side of it, too, where it&aposs never over. Scott won in New Jersey with 113 putts, not a low number for a tournament-winner, and it is his ball-striking that does the trick for him. Not finding much trouble, he did not card a single bogey on Sunday in his closing 66, reeling in the others from a six-shot deficit. Interestingly, he has not decided yet what approach to take when the anchoring ban for putting comes into play in 2016. Scott uses the broomstick putter but has said the only actual anchoring is from his left hand brushing his chest. He has practised using the long putter without anchoring it; of course he was a fine player with a regulation-length putter before switching to the broomstick in 2011, albeit harbouring a few pangs of anxiety on the greens at times. Clearly he is in magnificent fettle, so much so that there is a debate in America about the player of the year, and how Woods five wins in lesser tournaments stack up against the likes of Scott (one major and one playoff win, plus top-fives in two other majors) and Mickelson, the British Open champion. His mate Geoff Ogilvy, for one, has nominated Scott as the likely winner, but in truth it will probably be decided over the playoffs in the next few weeks. Only the top 30 on the Fedex Cup points list get to play the Tour Championship in Atlanta in a few weeks, and with the points recalculated after the third event, the BMW, only the top five can have a chance of winning the $10 million bonus for the Fedex Cup champion. Hence if Scott or Woods play well enough this week or win in Boston, they could potentially skip the BMW and still remain in contention for the biggest single prize in golf. In the past two years, the Fedex Cup champion (Brandt Snedeker in 2012 and Bill Haas in 2011) also won the Tour Championship. Scott has won the Tour Championship before (in 2006), but not since it became part of the playoffs. His task is clear. Like everyone, we are always searching for better, he told the media after last Sunday s win. They are words that will be music to many Australian ears. ADAM SCOTT S BREAKOUT YEAR Won: The Masters, Barclays Championship. Third: British Open Championship, WGC Cadillac Championship Fifth: PGA Championship Events: Played 13 events, made cut 13 times. Prizemoney: $4.6 million