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Scott Eyeing Two Majors in a Row Despite Heady Pairing
Although he's the reigning Masters champion and the only major winner of 2013, Adam Scott said that he felt like a "side note" in light of his first-round pairing in this week's U.S. Open with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Woods, of course, is the top-rated player in the world while the 24-year-old McIlroy is No. 2. The 32-year-old Scott, who became the first Aussie to don a green jacket when he overcame Angel Cabrera on the second sudden-death playoff hole at Augusta National in April, is ranked third.
Scott felt the same way in 2008 at Torrey Pines when he was matched up with two long-time adversaries, Woods and Phil Mickelson. That was the year the USGA first came up with a 1-2-3 pairing.
"I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week," Scott recalled. "Remembering back to Torrey Pines, the hype was enormous around that pairing. Obviously, with Tiger and Phil, it was so much to talk about with it being Phil's hometown and Tiger dominating at Torrey for years. And it was a great pairing.
"It was an experience that I'll never forget," added Scott. "I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere. I think they've done it a fair few times since, but that was certainly a big pairing."
Scott thinks he's a little less intimidated this year than five years ago; the 2008 U.S. Open was Woods' 14th - and most recent - major title. "I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory. I know what to expect out there, I think."
The trio starts play Thursday at 1:14 p.m. on the first tee at Merion's East Course. Scott is looking forward to the challenge of competing with his famous counterparts, but knows his focus will have to be on the golf course. Here's what the 32-year-old from Adelaide had to tell reporters during a Q&A Monday afternoon.
MODERATOR: Welcome and good morning everybody to the 113th U.S. Open Championship. I'm Joe Goode, Managing Director of Communications for the USGA. We're pleased to have this morning Adam Scott, winner of the 2013 Masters tournament. He is playing in his 12th U.S. Open, and he finished 15th last year at the Olympic. Many thanks for joining us this morning, Adam. Do you take anything away from your win at the Masters as one major and apply it to another major here at the U.S. Open?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, definitely. I think it would be smart of me to take some things away with what I did at the Masters. All the positives that I felt that week and the way I applied myself to preparing and the way I played on the golf course, also mentally and physically, I guess, a lot of good stuff that ended up in me winning. Every event is different and the challenges here this week are somewhat different than the challenges you'll face at Augusta. But the experience of dealing with coming down the stretch and ultimately winning hopefully will hold me in good stead the next time I get that chance. And I'm aiming for that to be Sunday here.
Q. At Torrey Pines where they had the 1, 2, 3 grouping for the first time. Did you feel like the third wheel that week and how much different do you feel this time around?
ADAM SCOTT: I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week. Remembering back to Torrey Pines, the hype was enormous around that pairing. Obviously with Tiger and Phil, it was so much to talk about with it being Phil's hometown and Tiger dominating at Torrey for years. And it was a great pairing. It was an experience that I'll never forget. I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere. I think they've done it a fair few times since, but that was certainly a big pairing. I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory. I know what to expect out there, I think. I don't know that I'm probably also the third wheel this week, as well. That's why I'm No. 3 in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be the third wheel, I guess.
Q. Going for the Grand Slam this week?
ADAM SCOTT: I am. Like No. 2. That's a side note, I guess, to the other couple of guys.
Q. How are you enjoying Philadelphia's weather so far?
ADAM SCOTT: So far it's been great (laughter). I've seen the inside of the clubhouse a lot and restaurants. I haven't been able to get out much. I've been here since Friday and I've been studying the course by the yardage book so far, not so much playing, unfortunately.
Q. How much different is it coming to a major having won one as opposed to being one of the best players that haven't won one?
ADAM SCOTT: I can't lie to you, I do feel a lot better coming here, even discussing that kind of thing. It's a good feeling to come here to know that I've achieved that. I've got my first major. And my sights are definitely set on trying to win more. But it is a nice feeling. I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel playing for the first time in a major after having won, to see if there's less pressure or if up I'm going to put more pressure on myself, I don't really know. For me it's a very exciting time in my career, where hopefully I can make the most of all the things that I've been working for and take advantage of the momentum of winning the Masters and that good form. But it's very exciting for me to come, like I said, and even talk to you as a major champion.
Q. You kind of joked about you've seen more restaurants and inside of the clubhouse than you have this green. When you come to a place where you haven't played a lot and you can't get out there, how much more difficult does it make it to play here at Merion when you're not getting a lot of availability out there?
ADAM SCOTT: I think ultimately it's frustrating. I'm lucky I came up about three weeks ago and played a couple of rounds, so I have seen the course a fair bit. And I've got a fairly good understanding. But I'm a big believer, especially for here, that you have to understand the course very well. You'd like to feel like you're a local going out there. A lot of blind shots off tees. The fairways move a lot where you can't see it. So you have to have a really good understanding, a good visual of what's out there when you can't see it. I think for me that's the frustrating part at the moment is I'm not getting to hit enough shots off those tees before we'll start Thursday.
Q. Talk about your feeling of coming out here and the history surrounding the course; Ben Hogan on 18, Bobby Jones, the wicker baskets, everything that Merion stands for?
ADAM SCOTT: It's a big part of golfing history, and everyone knows that's a big reason why the USGA has come back here, probably rightly so. I think at the moment it's just all very disappointing with the weather. But hopefully we can get a bit lucky and it can dry out and we can get a really good test over the weekend. But it's nice to come to these places that have played such a big part in golf's history because we don't get to do it that much. We're also moving to a lot of new places that have become part of golf's history, too. But to come back - when I was here three weeks ago, I bought the Hogan poster in the pro shop. I'll buy it here, because then at least it's from the place where he hit the 1 iron. It's fun stuff like that. I think most of us appreciate the history of the game and understand everything that's happened before, and we all like doing that kind of stuff.
Q. You said you were here Friday?
ADAM SCOTT: I was here, yeah.
Q. Which was when Andrea arrived, which dumped four inches of rain on this golf course. You said you haven't been able to get out there much. How much golf were you able to play this weekend and how did you find the course?
ADAM SCOTT: I played 18 holes yesterday. The course was closed on Saturday, but they let us walk around and hit some putts, but we couldn't play. And Friday it was open, but it wasn't worth going out there, it was under water. So I've only really played 18 holes so far. I was going to try to play the back nine this morning. But obviously we're not going anywhere at the moment. And I'm going to try and play Wednesday for sure. It turns out that coming up a few weeks ago was really quite valuable for me. I've had three full rounds and that's taken my time trying to figure everything out. I think I've got a pretty good idea where I'm going to try to go. Obviously with it being a little soft it becomes a little more simple than what it was. The ball is just going to stop where it lands. So if you're accurate you'll be fine.
Q. Some players win their first major championship and go on the talk show circuit. You haven't been as visible since winning the Masters. Is that a conscious decision on your part and why?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I guess so. I kind of had a plan in place. I like to have a plan for most things so I don't get blindsided by stuff. I had already had commitments that following week and I just felt that there was no need to go and do all the shows. I did something for Australia. And I did The Morning Show in America. And I felt they were important for me to do. One, for Australia, for obvious reasons, but also over here. I feel I've been welcomed in the States and really supported and I also wanted to show my appreciation for everyone in America, as well, because I'm really lucky how much support I get out here. I really enjoy playing in front of everyone. But I felt that's all I needed to do. I try and entertain people on the golf course, not on talk shows.
Q. First off, the times when you haven't had the opportunity to go out on the golf course, talking to people, look at the yardages, who have you talked to that maybe you've got some information that you wouldn't have been able to get on the golf course, because there are some locals here that are willing to give up information. And secondly, the print that you bought, what's the plan for that?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, you've got to be careful not to talk to too many people, your head will be spinning. Buddy Marucci, obviously is closely attached with the club here and he offered plenty of advice, and another member, Gary van Arkle, has been really forthcoming with any advice. And I just picked their brains a little bit a few weeks ago about stuff. And then processed that myself. And really it's been more about Brad, Steve and myself just discussing our plan. And after they've seen the course the way they'd like to approach it, so that we're all on the same page come Thursday. I'm not looking - I don't think there's anyone who's got the secret to Merion that I've got to find. It's more about Steve and I now getting on the same page so that we know exactly what we're doing out there come Thursday. The print I'm going to frame and put up in my house, for sure, maybe above the desk or something.
Q. You've played a very limited schedule since winning at Augusta. How do you keep yourself sort of in competitive shape and you show up here again when you don't play as often in between starts?
ADAM SCOTT: I practice. I just practice a lot when I'm at home. I feel like I'm trying to do this thing that I've talked about a lot the last few years of peaking at the right time. And it's hard to sit at home some weeks when I feel like I'm playing really good, it could be my week, and watch other guys win on Tour or get in contention when I feel like I'm good enough to be there when I'm at home practicing or even the weeks that I play. You might be just a touch off on Thursday because you've had a three week break or something, and that might cost you a couple of shots and in the end you're a few back and not quite where you want to be Sunday, but I've kind of got the big picture in mind always when I get frustrated with that and think, well, I've got a pretty good plan in place that I think I'll be competitively ready Thursday here and have my best stuff for the next four days from then and put myself in a position where I can win this tournament.
I guess in the scheme of things it's a small sacrifice to not win a couple of Tour events if you're going to win the U.S. Open or something like that. That's where I'm placing the importance at the moment. That's kind of how I think about it.
Q. Have you seen David Graham, and if not will you, given that he's here as a bit of a host this week?
ADAM SCOTT: I'd like to see him if he's here. It's been ages since I've seen David. It would be nice to bump into him and absolutely hear what he has to say about his memories of winning here, which was an incredible round he played. It would be neat to catch up with him for sure because we don't get to see him much at all.
Q. Talking about this plan of the limited schedule and the devoted practice time at home, etcetera, can you talk about when that came into focus for you, what was the catalyst to go in that direction?
ADAM SCOTT: Really at the start of - well, through 2010 and then really cut back in 2011 and kind of the whole plan, I laid it out and started putting that into practice to just essentially focus on playing well in the big events. The majors and world events and the players.
Q. What caused you to finally think that way?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, my lack of success and 10 years of playing badly. I'm a learner, but not a fast one, obviously. The frustration was really high in 2010. I was playing well, not getting results that I wanted. I was frustrated with a lot of things because of that. I'd had enough, essentially, of not playing well enough in the big events when I felt I could. So I had to do something different. You have to after a while if it's not working. If it is broke, you've got to fix it.
Q. Along those lines, can you tell us what a typical day is like for you at Albany?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it depends. There are times when practice is a couple of hours a day. And then there are times, like last week, where - good preparation and good practice is four to five hours a day. I like that kind of number, because that's about the amount of time that I try to concentrate playing a round on Tour. So I take all that, it's not just random. I think the amount of things I do randomly with golf is very few. Most of it is planned and purposeful. And four to five hour practice session is a nice amount of time. I feel I can get some good quality work done and I can keep my focus for that long, and I'm not wasting my time and I'm effective.
Q. Tiger's form suggests he's close to getting back to his best? Do you agree with that? What do you think of the shape of Tiger's game right now. And given Steve's history with Tiger, when you get paired with him, is there any extra electricity to your grouping with him?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, his form is pretty good. He's won four times, I think, this year, so he's all right. I'm not too worried about his form. Yeah, it will be a fun week, absolutely, some energy and electricity, playing with him at any time there always is. And given the hype around this grouping and being a major there's going to be - it's going to be an intense couple of days. But essentially that's what we're playing for. That's a pairing you'd hope for on Sunday, also, because if you don't enjoy that kind of stuff it's going to be tough for you to have success out here because at some point if you're playing well and winning a tournament you're going to have to try and beat him. And that's what you want to be out here for. That's why you spend the hours and test yourself. And I'm looking forward to that Thursday, Friday.
Q. You guys are being shuttled from the West Course to the East Course, the driving range is over on the west. You're starting on 1 or 11, so you're either playing 8 holes or 10 holes and making the turn. Can you discuss the nuances that you typically don't have to deal with on other majors?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, the range is a little further away than we're used to. I'm sure they've got that all planned and hopefully it works like clockwork. But we've got some practice teeing off the 9th tee last year, we're teeing off the 11th this year. It's quirky kind of stuff but these golf courses weren't built to host an infrastructure like the Open now demands. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully, like I said, it's all planned out nicely and goes like clock work and won't interfere with anyone's routines or anything like that.
Q. Golf is such a great test of character, can you talk about not winning the British Open and winning the Masters and what you learned about you in that span of time?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it's hard, I mean I think the Open, as disappointing as that was, the self belief it gave me, which sounds a bit odd, seeing I didn't win, far out weighed the disappointment of it. It was like finally I've played really, really well and essentially controlled that tournament for the whole week. It was all in my hands to win or lose and I lost. But I've been trying to play like that for so long, like why did I change the way I prepared?
Because I hadn't played like that. And to get there just gave me the belief that I was on the right track. And the belief that I'm good enough to win a major. It was like the final piece in the puzzle for me, I think, to get that through my head. I think I just carried that with me into the PGA, I felt like I could get back up and win the PGA and I played okay. And I felt I was close again. But it didn't get me down, I just had to keep doing the same stuff. And the way I'm doing it I feel like all the work just accumulates and then it's up to me to execute it and rely on my instincts and what talent I have to play the game can come out at the right time. And it did at the Masters. Hopefully I'm accumulating again, and it will come out this week. I really think it was just the last couple of pieces in the puzzle that I learned at Lytham to get me over the line, ultimately at Augusta.
MODERATOR: Pretty good place to stop. Adam, thanks for joining us this morning and good luck this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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