Date: July 16, 2014
Author: Martin Blake /

Scott prepping for third time lucky

<image="1" align="left" />Adam Scott has been building to a win in the Open Championship, with a third (at Muirfield last year) and runner-up (at Lytham in 2012). He is No. 1 in the world, the first Australian to achieve it since Greg Norman. He knows that it is his time.

 Scott told the media at Royal Liverpool today that he enjoyed something that Phil Mickelson said after the American's triumph at Muirfield last year about what the Open Championship means. It was Mickelson's first win in the Open at his 20th attempt, and his biggest. "I really liked what he said, he felt like a complete golfer after he'd won this, because it's such a different test and examination of your game,'' said Scott. "The conditions are so different than we usually play. And the shots you need to hit at some point, not all of them, but at some point you have to hit something pretty creative.''

The Australian is playing his 15th Open. He went top 10 at Royal Liverpool the last time the championship was played there in 2006 behind Tiger Woods, but he is at his peak as a player now, with a major championship (the Masters in 2013) behind him.

"I feel like a little bit of what I said, I'm playing some of my best golf at the moment,'' he said. "And I don't know how long that's going to last. So I've got to try and take advantage of that and win all the events that I'd really love to win, and this is certainly one of them. I've given myself a couple of opportunities and haven't done it. I think maybe the third time you have to do it or it might not come back around.''

Scott has not played for almost a month, since finishing tied-ninth in the US Open at Pinehurst. It is a quirky regime, with fewer tournaments starts than most players, that he has followed since 2011. He has played just 10 tournaments this year, saving himself for the majors. It is around half of what a lot of the players in the field this week will have played.

But he sticks to his planning on this. He declined the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen last week and has no regrets. "I've played Royal Aberdeen before, and I know it's a great track,'' he said. "But in a sense, in the way I see it — and I might be wrong — but why play that links when you can play this one?''

Hence, he turned up at Hoylake last Thursday and has practised every day since, picking up the nuances of one of the best courses on the Open rota.  "I just try and prepare the best I can,'' he said. "The Majors are the biggest events, the ones we all want to win the most. And I feel like I need to practise and prepare in a certain way that I feel my game's going to hold up for four rounds under the most pressure we feel all year.

"So balancing the amount of balls you hit and the chips and putts, and having a good understanding of the golf course you're going to play all helps. I sacrifice probably a couple of tournaments here and there to spend time looking at a golf course and doing the homework and getting comfortable. If that gives me a chance to win, that's not a very big sacrifice for me to make, in my mind.''

Links golf was somewhat of a mystery to him a few years ago. But he should have won at Lytham two years ago, playing peerless golf for three days to lead into the final round, then carding four consecutive bogeys in the final four holes to gift the Open to Ernie Els, his great friend. Although it was one of the golf's great meltdowns, Scott has always taken solace from the fact that he was able to contend, and the fact that he came out and won the Masters less than 12 months later proved how resilient he was. He also contended at the Open deep into the final day last year, before Mickelson's brilliance overcame him.

"I think Lytham was the proving to me that I've got what it takes to win,'' he said. "It was obviously not the finish (I wanted) there, but that gave me a lot of confidence not just about playing well in Majors, but also had the game to win an Open Championship, which is big for the confidence. And I think I'm playing some of the best golf of my life at the moment, so I should really be taking advantage of it and stepping up this week and putting myself in with a good chance.''

Royal Liverpool is softer than it was in 2006 and Scott predicted some low scores. But everything depends on the wind, as it usually does on seaside links. "The course is great,'' he said. "It's been presented beautifully. Every aspect of it is perfect. It's incredible, really. As far as what it takes, it is all weather dependent. It can change so much, even throughout the day, depending whether the wind is up or dropped, so the wind switches. So you have to play that by ear. But obviously the wind is a big defence for this golf course. If it's not windy, I think as soft as it is, we're going to have some good scores out here.''

Scott, one of eight Australians in the field, tees off at 11.27 Thursday evening AEST with Jason Dufner and Justin Rose.