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Scott Laps Field in WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
With a veteran caddie on his bag, a confident Adam Scott wrapped up a wire-to-wire win in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a final-round 5-under 65. The 31-year-old Aussie finished at 17-under 263, four strokes ahead of Rickie Fowler and current No. 1 Luke Donald, who both closed with 4-under 66s.
The victory for Scott, his eighth overall on the PGA Tour, was worth $1.4 million and 550 FedEx Cup points. On Sunday at Firestone Country Club's South Course in Akron, Ohio, Scott carded five birdies - including a 3-footer on the 72nd hole after a great approach from 200 yards - and the rest pars.
"I'm stoked. To win in a world golf championship event and around this track is incredible," Scott said. "It was a great day on the golf course for me," he told reporters later in the interview room. "I went to the range and had the best warm-up of the week. Like I said maybe a couple days ago, I wasn't feeling 100 percent with the golf swing, and today I felt 100. It felt great in the warm-up, so I was confident going to the course. I just had to kind of control myself a little bit and stay patient and not get ahead of myself." (See below for Scott's full post-round interview.)
Fowler tipped his cap to Scott. "He's a good player," said the 22-year-old Californian. "I've had quite a few opportunities to play with him. I like his game and obviously he's playing really well this week. I played with him yesterday. He's doing really well with Stevie (Williams) on the bag. It's a good match. They've been doing really well together, and he's just confident in his game right now. I think the long putter has been good for him. He looks really good with it.
"When he first put it in, I saw him out practicing in Florida when we were down there for the 'Florida Swing,' and he was hitting putts where every putt looked like it had a chance to go in. I think that's had a big impact on his full confidence around the whole course."
Despite coming up short of catching Scott, Donald was pleased with his performance in Akron. "It was a great weekend, a bit of a slow start," said the 33-year-old Brit. "I played very well. I didn't putt great the first two days, played very nicely yesterday and played very well today.
"Again, I left a few opportunities out there on the greens, missed a 4-footer on 14 and another few short putts. If I got the putter rolling a little bit better, I would have given Adam a good run. But he looks like he's playing very well."
Williams, who was the caddie for Tiger Woods in 13 of his 14 major titles before being fired last month by the erstwhile No. 1-ranked player in the world, called the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational "the best week of his life" and "the best win I've ever had." It was the eighth win for Williams at Firestone (seven with Woods) and his 145th career victory in 33 years as a Tour caddie.
Scott later said of Williams' comments: "That's very nice of Steve to say. He's obviously really happy to get a win. Nice of him to say. He said that to me, and that's why he's good for me. He really fills me with confidence. It's nice to hear him say that."
Tied for fourth at 12-under 268 were Australia's Jason Day (69) and Scott's playing partner, Ryo Ishikawa, who also had a 69. Tied for sixth at 270 were Kyung-tae Kim (66), Zach Johnson (68) and 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy (67).
McIlroy was one of the few players to post four rounds in the 60s at Firestone, which proved heartening for the young Northern Irishman as he heads off to Atlanta Athletic Club for this week's PGA Championship. "It's been a very productive week. There's a lot of positives going into next week, which is great," he said.
"It would have been nice to give myself a little more of a chance to win this week, just didn't hole enough putts. But you know, again, it was a good week and a good confidence builder going into next week definitely."
No. 2-ranked Lee Westwood matched Scott's 65 for Sunday's low round to tie for ninth with a resurgent David Toms (67) at 9-under 271, while another stroke back at 272 were another Aussie, Aaron Baddeley, who also shot 65, Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson (71) and Scotland's Martin Laird (72).
Westwood also feels his game is in good shape in the run-up to Atlanta. "It's moving along nicely," he said. "I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but today I felt a lot more confident on the greens, and saw the ball setting off on the line that I picked a lot more often."
As for being ready to tackle what's promising to be a tough Atlanta Athletic Club, Westwood remarked: "That's good the way I'm hitting the ball, the harder the better."
In his first tournament since the Players Championship in mid-May, Woods posted rounds of 68, 71, 72 and 70 to finish at 1-over 281 and tied for 37th. "I had it in spurts this week," Woods said later. "I hit it really well, and then I'd lose it and get it back. Today was a good example of that. I hit it well starting out, then completely lost it there, and tried to piece it back together at the end.
"I found my putting stroke at the end, too, which was nice. But it was - again, it was in spurts this week," added Woods, whose new caddie is long-time friend Byron Bell. "I'm still struggling with my alignment and trusting the fact that the ball doesn't shape as much as it used to. I don't cut the ball as much, I don't draw the ball as much, the pattern is much tighter. It's weird when I look up the fairway or look at the flags; I'm used to seeing the ball move a lot more in my lines, so I'm still fiddling with that."
Other scores of note included a closing 72 by Phil Mickelson, who ended up tied for 48th at 3-over 283. One stroke further down the leaderboard was Masters' champion Charl Schwartzel, who had a 71.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, finished at 9-over 289 in 65th place after a closing 71, while current British Open champion Darren Clarke ended up with a 72 and a T-68 finish at 12-over 292.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboards/current/r476/index.html.
After signing his scorecard, Scott sat down with reporters and discussed what this latest win meant to him - and his new caddie.
MODERATOR: We want to welcome our 2011 World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational champion to the media center here, a fantastic final round, especially the back nine. It seemed like you really turned it on and were able to close out the tournament on those last few holes. Just talk about the day as a whole and then what the victory means to you.
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it was a great day on the golf course for me. I went to the range and had the best warm-up of the week. Like I said maybe a couple days ago, I wasn't feeling 100 percent with the golf swing, and today I felt 100. It felt great in the warm-up, so I was confident going to the course. I just had to kind of control myself a little bit and stay patient and not get ahead of myself. So went out there with a good strategy and played a solid front nine and not much happened, but started hitting some good shots on the back nine, chipping in on 12, all these good things happen when you win. Ended up playing a really solid round of golf for this golf course. With this win, I mean, I'm really stoked to have won a World Golf Championship and win around this course in nice fashion. The way I closed it out, I was really happy with, too, so overall extremely happy.
Q. On 12, was there some decision or debate about what you were going to do with that shot, and did you and Steve discuss a few things, and was it always going to be a chip? And how much was that really a turning point for you?
ADAM SCOTT: No, there was no discussion about what kind of shot I was going to hit. He just said, it just breaks a bit more right to left than you think, and you know, it was one of those things that I just struck really sweet and felt like it's going in right from the time it leaves the club. And that was a big break to keep the momentum going because it had been very kind of slow and methodical, maybe picking the course apart a little bit. But to follow up a birdie on 12 -- I birdied 10, get a bit of momentum going, huge, and that's the kind of stuff you need to do to win. So that was a very nice time to chip one in.
Q. Some big par saves, too?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, there were some big par saves. 15 was huge, and it was a huge turning point with Ryo three-putting there because it could have easily gone the other way. But you know, I've told everyone I feel very comfortable with the putter, and that's right in my range right there. I just chipped it just inside my range where I like to be, and I made every one of them today, I felt like.
Q. I think this is six from eight leading up to three rounds that you've closed out, which is pretty impressive. Is it the first time you've gone leading right through to do this? And if so, you must be pretty happy about that?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I don't know if I've led all the way before, I can't think of a time. But I like being out in front. I consider myself a good frontrunner. I think if you look at all the tournaments I've won, I'd say most of them have been from out in front. So I like that position. But being one in front is nothing, really. I had no expectation that I was just going to cruise in to win today. There was too many good players, and one shot over 18 holes is nothing. It's just nice to be in contention, and like I said, I kind of picked apart the first 10 or 11 holes and then gave myself some good chances coming in, made a couple nice putts, did everything I needed to do.
Q. You've had 19 wins around the world. How does this victory compare with those other wins? And the second part of the question is what does this do now for your confidence going to Atlanta?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, this is obviously one of the biggest wins of my career, to win a World Golf Championship is what I set out to do this year with the majors, a real focus on the big events, and I think I've done a pretty good job so far of getting myself in the hunt. But that's the goal is to give myself a chance to win these big events. It's what I've wanted to do my whole career, and for whatever reason I haven't performed my best. But I really feel like I've got a good plan in place to get myself ready for these events now. That's working nicely. I mean, a lot of credit goes to Brad, my coach. He's done a lot of great things for my game. And as far as going next week, it's just a confidence boost, really. Good to know you're a winner. It's not easy to win, and the year was slipping away from me here, and I feel like -- I think I've won every year of my career somewhere in the world, and this year was slipping away quickly, so it was great to get a win, and hopefully I can take this form and play my way in with a chance next week.
Q. What was it like walking up 18, tournament in hand, and all the fans are yelling for your caddie? (Laughter.)
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I had no idea how popular a New Zealander can be, coming from Australia. Surprising. But no, obviously he's a popular guy around here having won now eight times, I guess. They appreciate him a lot, I guess, and he's a bit of a character. It was fun to get support, whether it's for me or him, I don't care, it's the right team.
Q. On that same note, Steve told us out there that this was the greatest day and week and win of his career. The guy has been on 13 majors. What's your reaction to that? And as a follow-up to that, how much of a difference did he make for you this week?
ADAM SCOTT: That's very nice of Steve to say. He's obviously really happy to get a win. Nice of him to say. He said that to me, and that's why he's good for me. He really feels me with confidence. It's nice to hear him say that. Yeah, what he brings this week, is that what you were asking?
Q. Yeah, what he brought to you this week.
ADAM SCOTT: Obviously he has such a great knowledge of this golf course and the greens. He's seen a guy play incredible golf, the best golf anyone has ever played around here so many times, so absolutely. He really guided me around the course nicely when he needed to step in and just make a point of where we need to be, he did, and had some great little notes in his book about putts on greens. And yeah, he knows this place very well, so he was, no doubt, a help.
Q. You and Tiger, of course, have both worked with Butch. When you see the occasional glimpse of Tiger's swing from 2000, does it remind you of your own swing today?
ADAM SCOTT: No, I don't know. To be honest, I don't look at my golf swing that much because then I start fiddling around with it. I leave that to Brad to look at, and he just tells me what to do. Our swings used to look very similar, and I think we both -- they've both evolved into very different golf swings. I think. But we've always had a very similar rhythm, and that's why people think we swing the same. But if you really get technical, they've always been a little bit different.
Q. Afterwards Stevie had some pretty harsh things to say about Tiger. I wonder are you concerned about that side of things overshadowing the best day of your life in terms of being a professional golfer?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know what to say about that. That's between those guys. I'm not involved in it at all, and they know that. I'm just out here to do my job. They'll figure that out themselves. They're both men.
Q. When you first came out, everybody said, here's the next Tiger, but maybe a lot of it was based on the fact that your swings were really similar. But the way you played today, you were very Tiger-like in terms of you didn't make mistakes, and when you did, you cleaned them up. Did you have that feeling about how you played today at that level that you played?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I mean, look, I played at a very high level today given the circumstances. Not everything was perfect. I hit a few loose shots, but yeah, it was pretty sharp. And it was, it was like we're used to seeing Tiger close out tournaments. He gets in front and just won't let anyone in. I think the putt on 15, that is certainly a putt that he makes when he's in that position. You know, I feel like you've got to play like a bulldog to win a golf tournament these days. And I like watching tennis, so I watch Rafa play, and that's what you've got to play like. You've got to go for every -- you can't let up on one shot, and that's how you win golf tournaments, because everyone is so good these days.
Q. And as a follow-up to that, is there something about -- just the vibe of having Steve there that contributed to that whole thought that you had of a bulldog?
ADAM SCOTT: Absolutely, yeah, because he's right up for it. Obviously we all know his personality in those situations, and he's right up for it. Yeah, it's almost like I need to show him, I've got it in me, because a lot of people question it. I can show him on the golf course that I'm right up for it, as well. A funny one was I was thinking of just dumping it over to the right on the last, hitting a 7-iron over there. And he said, what are you talking about, hit a 6-iron straight at the pin. And I hit a great shot. It was a good call because the better spot to miss it was left of the hole and not right, and I hit a great shot. He sees those lines and he gets me to go for it. So that's it for the confidence, that kind of stuff.
Q. If you could talk about what the long putter has meant to your game and your confidence and maybe how it's changed your outlook on scoring?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it's been huge for me. Obviously I was so inconsistent with the short putter, and that's the hardest thing. I didn't know what was going to show up when I went out on the golf course, whether it was going to be a decent stroke or not. The long putter has certainly provided me with more consistency, and with that has come the confidence, and I think I'm really solid over any putt at the moment. I feel very good about it. It's nice when you can have -- putting is such a huge part of the game, to be able to have that to fall back on if other things don't go well is a great feeling when you walk to the first tee.
Q. Secondly, maybe you could just talk about your growth as a player in general in the last couple years after you did struggle for a little period of time, just where you were then and how you can compare yourself to now.
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I mean, look, at the low points, you're pretty low and not sure how to shoot a good score, really. I mean, I didn't know. I felt like I was hitting it bad and I was chipping bad and putting bad, and everything was just very difficult. But exactly, you grow as a player, and I had to figure a lot of things out for myself because there are a lot of people who want to give advice, and it's only out of their concern and what they think is best for you, but sometimes you've got to block all that out and just figure it out yourself. And I kind of figured out I had to learn how to play golf myself again and trust my own instincts, and I really feel like I'm doing that a lot better on the golf course, just using my instinct. All the practice helps, but then when you go on the course, you just use your instincts as a good player. You know, I was a kid for a reason and didn't get caught up with all this other advice, and I think that's one of the things I'm proud of.
Q. What has been the low point so far in your career?
ADAM SCOTT: I can remember I was at Memorial in 2009, and it's the only time I've ever broken a club in anger on the course. I broke a 7-iron in the second round there, and of course needed it about four more times that day. (Laughter.) But unless something changes, I shouldn't play golf -- I need to change, one, my attitude, and two, my game, or I shouldn't be out here because I've missed so many cuts. I actually made the cut the week before, but I just went straight back to missing the cut at Memorial, and it was a waste of time being there that week.
Q. The other thing, all black in this heat, was that on purpose or did you lose a bet?
ADAM SCOTT: No, it was poor plan out of a suitcase. No, it was just poor planning actually.
Q. At the Open this year had you known that Stevie and Tiger were going to be no more?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I did.
Q. Were you at all kind of having to prepare for a moment like this knowing the history with Steve and Tiger, that when a day like this came that there might be almost as much attention on Steve and the number of questions he's gotten this week, this one included? Were you kind of expecting a time like this, and did you have to do anything differently to kind of brace yourself for it?
ADAM SCOTT: I haven't been thinking about it, but you know, yeah, I obviously expected it as soon as Steve -- as soon as people found out he was going to fill in for me at the U.S. Open. I've pretty much just been hammered with questions about him. That's all right. I can talk about Steve now and not Tiger. (Laughter.) I'm sure there are a lot of other golfers who wouldn't mind that, either.
Q. When you see Greg on Tuesday night, do you think he'll be pleased that you've locked up that spot on the Presidents Cup?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I hope so. You want to try and get as many Aussies on that team as we can, I think. It's good for our team, and Greg has just got to be happy seeing a few of the guys playing in form at this point in the year. Obviously Jason is playing great, does every week. But Greg is looking to finalize his team now, so I'm really glad I'm on it and not in the position I was in last time.
Q. This morning Steve said that after he watched you warm up, he knew there was no way you were losing today. Again, when you hear something like that from a guy who's won so many tournaments with so many different players, did that make you think, okay, I'm not going to lose this today, or was it sort of a jinx type thing where now mentally I don't want to hear that?
ADAM SCOTT: I didn't hear that, actually. The three of us, Brad, Steve and I, stood there, and I was kind of looking at him like, yeah, it's feeling pretty good today. But that's where it was good. Steve could see that, and he knew I was cutting the ball well. And every hole he said, okay, you've got to hit that cut and don't start thinking about trying to draw it because that's what's been working for us, and that was the discipline we both used today was just work with what I was doing best, and we did it the whole day, and kept me in a lot of -- I hit it in a lot of fairways, and the two or three maybe that I missed, two of them were in the first cut of rough. I was in play a lot. That's important around here.
Q. Getting back to the Presidents Cup, would you perhaps feel the notion of asking Greg to pair you with Tiger in singles?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know about that. I'm not asking for that at all. If that's how it falls, I'm up for it, absolutely. But I think it would probably come down to strategy at that point. It depends what the situation is. But I think the Internationals really need to win this Presidents Cup.
Q. You're probably going to play with Tiger the week before. Word is you'll be paired with Tiger and Jason Day at the Australian Open?
ADAM SCOTT: Who did the pairings there?
Q. Apparently they're already done.
ADAM SCOTT: They are, huh? Bothy did them, too. (Laughter.)
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.