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Scott Hopes to Erase Memory of Last Year's Open Championship
After experiencing a tough 2012 Open Championship, Adam Scott more than made up for that disappointment by becoming the first Australian to ever win the Masters this past April.
Last year at Royal Lythm & St. Annes, the Adelaide native was seemingly cruising to victory with a four-shot lead with four holes to play. But bogeys on each of his last four holes - combined with a birdie on the 18th by Ernie Els - handed the "Big Easy" his fourth major title and caused Scott to do some soul-searching for the next few months.
Scott said a turnaround in his attitude came when he had a chat with the great Tom Watson last December in the Australian Open. He said the eight-time major winner, and five-time British Open winner, told him to take advantage of such rare opportunities in Grand Slam events the next time they arise.
"Overall, you just have to be tough coming down the stretch, and I wasn't tough enough that day," Scott told reporters on Wednesday. "A four-shot lead isn't enough if you're not going to be tough. Even if you're being tough, four shots can only just get you over the line.
"I played a practice round with Tom Watson at the Australian Open last year and he waited seven holes to bring up what happened at the Open. He asked me, and I told him what I thought. And he said that he let one slip early in his career, and he said he would never let that happen again. He would just be tough and want it so badly.
"And sometimes maybe that has to happen for you to realize that. Obviously words coming from him I took to heart. It was a completely different situation at Augusta. But I felt like I played tough, especially in the playoff, because no one's going to give you a major."
Scott certainly played tough down the stretch at Augusta National, closing with a 3-under 69 on Sunday to tie the great Angel Cabrera of Argentina in regulation at 9-under 279, then beating the two-time major champion on the second sudden-death playoff hole with a birdie.
That performance showed Scott took Watson's advice to heart. Now, the No. 4-ranked Scott is looking for another Grand Slam title at Muirfield - site of the 142nd Open Championship - and redressing that loss last summer at Lytham.
If not only for Scott's personal gain, a victory this week would provide cheer for his sports-mad nation, which saw its cricket team lose the first test to England in the Ashes series.
"It's a tough time being an Aussie over here at the moment, to be honest with you. I move very quietly around town," Scott told reporters, with a smile. "I'd love to get in here this week, and maybe spur our cricket team along to leveling the test series."
Here's what else the likable Aussie had to say to the media during his Q&A on Wednesday. He'll be paired in the first round with England's Luke Donald and American Matt Kuchar.
MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. We'll get started. I'm delighted to welcome the 2013 Masters champion, Adam Scott, into the media room. Adam, thank you for joining us. Congratulations on a fantastic year so far. After doing so well last year in The Open at Lytham, you must be looking forward to getting started this week.
ADAM SCOTT: Absolutely. This really has been the tournament I've been looking forward to most this year, there's no doubt, for obvious reasons. After what happened at Lytham, I was eager to get back and try and get into another position to hopefully win the Claret Jug. It's been a great year, like you said. Obviously putting Lytham behind me and going on to win the Masters this year, has been a bit of a fairy tale, and if I were to get in contention this week, that would just continue. I'm excited about the week. There's so much to look forward to the way everything has shaped up for this Open Championship. Very exciting week ahead.
Q. I'd just like to know when you arrived here, perhaps at the weekend? And also you played Renaissance yesterday. Is there any particular reason for that or were you just trying to get away from the crowds?
ADAM SCOTT: No, I got up here last Tuesday evening, and I spent the week playing out here, which was really enjoyable, obviously we had weather like this every day. And I just watched the course firm up throughout the week, and tried to get my game to adjust to these conditions. So I had a really relaxed and enjoyable week learning Muirfield last week. Yes, I played Renaissance just to get away for a day. It's busy out there and I've seen the course a lot. That was enjoyable playing, I played with my dad out there.
Q. You were part of the '03 Presidents Cup team in South African, and speak fondly of meeting President Mandela. What was the experience like for you?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it's one of those things that I'll never forget in my life. I've been so lucky through golf to meet these important people in the world. But some certainly have a different impact on others, and some carry a real aura. And I was blown away by just when that man walked into a room how the local South Africans reacted to him. It's hard to imagine. I don't think I've actually ever seen anything quite like it. There were women weeping and stuff like that. They were just so emotional about it. So it was great to kind of be there and get to shake the man's hand and experience that. It's something, like I said, that I'll never forget, for sure.
Q. The Nations Club has been touted as a possible Scottish Open venue, can you tell us what you think about the facility over there, and can you see the Scottish Open possibly being held there?
ADAM SCOTT: There was talk of that yesterday. They were telling me it's potentially going there in a few years time. The facility is fantastic. I've enjoyed being over there. They've been extremely courteous to me, and let me use the facilities all last week to practice. And I think there's no doubt that it can host a tournament of that stature in the future. There are still a couple of new holes that have just been finished, but in a couple of years, absolutely, it will be ready. It's a tough test. It wasn't very windy yesterday, and it was a pretty tough test.
Q. Can I ask you about your thoughts on your good friend Justin's U.S. Open win. You sent him a text after the Masters. Do you see a friendly rivalry for majors developing between the two of you?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, that would only develop if he or I were to win this week, then it would be 2-1. But, no, look, couldn't be happier for him. Whatever I said in the text, I was sincere about. I really did believe - "I feel like it's our time," I think is what I wrote to him. And that's because - sitting on the outside of his world a little bit and look in and can see how hard he's working, how good he is, how much time and effort he puts into it. And a couple of times when we have spent time together away from a tournament, just playing socially or something, you can just see in a guy when he's ready and that he wants it, too. And I saw that in Justin. The good thing about me winning the Masters for him was that it fired him up probably even more. And sometimes that's all you need. If somebody that you know fairly well and you know their game can do it, it gives you even more belief.
Q. You mentioned getting here last Tuesday and doing a lot of preparation. You seem to build your preparation time around the majors over the last couple of years. How did you come to that process? Why do you do it the way you do now, play less and practice more?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it was simply all around the majors, because I had poor results in them. So what I have been doing for the first ten years of my career didn't work, and it took me that long to figure it out. I needed to do something different. And I just put everything else aside and said I'm just going to focus on big events, and do what I need to do to hopefully play the best I can at every one, especially for the Open Championship. Coming early for me and playing a lot on the course that we're going to play and learning it has been important for me. I want to feel comfortable when I'm on every tee throughout the week in any condition. And the more I play the course, I think, the more I'll feel that way. And the other part of that is, yeah, I'm enjoying practicing more because I believe also for me that for my swing and my short game and my putting to hold up to four days of major pressure, I need to put in more time practicing than playing tournaments. So I play a little less. I practice a bit more. And the last couple of years have shown good results, much more consistent results in the major tournaments.
Q. Ernie was saying the other day there are players that might have never been able to overcome a disappointment like last year's British Open. What was the key, do you think, for you being able to get past it and use it in a positive way?
ADAM SCOTT: To be honest, I think it's probably everything that happened before the event. It wasn't anything that was said to me after the event. No matter how you react, it's hard to console somebody who feels so terrible about it. But I think it's all the good advice and guidance that I've been given on how to handle playing a professional sport or handle just being a person and having a decent perspective on all that. And somehow that turned into me taking Lytham as a positive, and just pushing me harder to try to get across the line to win a major.
Q. Specifically looking back, what have you learned from those last four holes at Lytham last year?
ADAM SCOTT: Look, I think there are lots and little bits and pieces, but overall you just have to be tough coming down the stretch, and I wasn't tough enough that day. A four-shot lead isn't enough if you're not going to be tough. Even if you're being tough, four shots can only just get you over the line. And. I played a practice round with Tom Watson at the Australian Open last year and he waited seven holes to bring up what happened at the Open. He asked me, and I told him what I thought. And he said that he let one slip early in his career, and he said he would never let that happen again. He would just be tough and want it so badly. And sometimes maybe that has to happen for you to realize that. Obviously words coming from him I took to heart. It was a completely different situation at Augusta. But I felt like I played tough, especially in the playoff, because no one's going to give you a major.
Q. I hate to say this to you, but it's not been the best month for Australian sport (laughter). Would it be nice to strike back right at the heart of the British at the Open and claim one back for Australia?
ADAM SCOTT: Are you given our cricket no hope, are you, for the rest of the summer? (Laughter). Yeah, look, that would be a fun story line. But hopefully, yeah, absolutely, I'd love to get in here this week and maybe spur our cricket team along to leveling the test series. It's a tough time being an Aussie over here at the moment, to be honest with you. I move around very quietly around town (laughter).
Q. Did you watch much of the cricket over the weekend?
ADAM SCOTT: I didn't see much, I watched the run chase on the final day, yeah, it was incredible.
Q. What did you make of Ashton Agar? Did you know he was nicknamed "Scotty"?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, everyone has been telling me. I think it's great. Yeah. Honestly I hope he's the spark our Australian team needs going forward. He's a young kid come out 98 on debut, and can help us in the first test. Obviously he's got what it takes. Hopefully he's the spark on our team going forward, for this summer and beyond.
Q. Have you seen the Gary Player pictures in the Body Issue and what are your thoughts on that?
ADAM SCOTT: No, I haven't, but I've heard about them. Yeah. He's a fit man, fair enough. I wouldn't know that I'll be going out of my way to check him out, though (laughter).
MODERATOR: Thanks very much, and best of luck this week.
ADAM SCOTT: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.