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Scott Returns after Lengthy Hiatus; Opens with 69 at Players Championship
After becoming the first Australian to win the Masters in the tournament's 77 years, Adam Scott rightfully took some time off. In fact, the Adelaide native hasn't played since his historic victory against Argentina's Angel Cabrera on the second sudden-death playoff hole.
But the popular player is back in action this week, and he got off to a good start in his return, opening with a 3-under 69 in the first round of the Players Championship. The $9.5 million event - golf's so-called "fifth major" - began Thursday at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
Instead of returning home for what would have been a rowdy national party, the 32-year-old Scott stuck to his schedule and, after doing some business in New York City immediately after his triumph at Augusta National, went to the Bahamas for an extended vacation.
"I talked this one over with the people that are around me and we're in the middle of the year and, yes, it's cause for celebration, but we have a plan in place," Scott said Wednesday. "Hopefully it's not going to stop with the Masters at the moment."
Per his usual post-major routine, Scott stayed away from golf for awhile following the Masters euphoria. "Put the clubs away for a little while," he said. "I left (them away) another week, which felt good, and I managed to just have no agenda for that week and enjoy myself and do nothing for a few days. It was nice."
The second of Scott's nine PGA Tour victories came at Sawgrass in 2004, when he closed with a 2-under 70 to edge Ireland's Padraig Harrington by a stroke, so he's had some success at the Pete Dye-designed golf course.
On Wednesday, Scott met with reporters and discussed his sabbatical from golf and his chances for a second Players title this week. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Adam Scott. Adam, you're making your first start on the PGA Tour since your win at the Masters. Kind of want to catch us up on what you've been up to, how much you've been playing the last week, and your thoughts coming into this week?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I've had a really nice break, to be honest, since the Masters, which I had planned anyway, but it was even better because I was floating around on the clouds the last three weeks. It's been an overwhelming time for me, I have to say, especially in the immediate period after winning the Masters. Just so many people reached out to me, I was blown away. That comes from everywhere, especially Australia, but over here, as well, other players, media, everyone. It was incredible. I didn't know you guys had my number even.
I put the clubs away for a little while, probably a week longer than I normally would have. I always put them away for probably four or five days after a major, if I can. Maybe not after the Open. To just unwind and get away because you put so much into the preparation and time in the weeks before a major, the pressure of playing, especially if you're in contention, is a lot and I think you really need that time to put them away. But I left it another week, which felt good, and managed to just have no agenda for that week and enjoy myself and do nothing for a few days. It was nice.
But the last week I had Brad, my coach, back with me on the range. We quickly got back into it, and after a couple of days, the swing was still feeling good, and you get itchy feet and you're ready to get back out here and compete. I'm looking forward to that this week, and I think it's a nice week for me to come back to Sawgrass and the Players, because I've had such a great run here over the years. I feel like I've played really well here and had amazing support, so I'm excited about playing this week. I hopefully can take my head out of the clouds and come back down to earth and play some good golf.
Q. After the Open Championship, the recovery from that, if you will, could you compare that to the recovery post Masters in terms of emotions, and if it's applicable, exhaustion?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I think it's completely different. There is so much elation with winning the Masters that I couldn't really get focused on golf, and that's why I kept waking up and thinking I shouldn't play yet because I felt like I don't want to go out there and mess around and not be focused and achieving something if I'm going to go out and practice.
Whereas the Open was obviously a disappointing loss, but it was a motivator, and the Bridgestone and the PGA was just around the corner, and I felt I'd never swung the club as good as I did at the Open, and it was a chance for me to go out at the PGA and right the wrong of Lytham. So I used that as a motivator. This, I think is a motivator, too, but I'm finding it a bit harder to put the two together because of the elation and the sense of achievement for me, and like I said, the overwhelming response to winning. But hopefully come tomorrow morning I'll be able to plant my feet on the ground and keep this going because it could be the start of a great year for me out here on the Tour.
Q. There is this belief that if you win a major your life will be forever changed. What is your sense of that?
ADAM SCOTT: Maybe in the history books it is because you're written into that history book of winning a major and it will never be taken out of there. But I don't believe so other than that. For me, it's probably going to be the pinnacle of my career because of also the whole of Australia as first Australian to win the Masters, but it's also not the end for me. Hopefully it's the start of me achieving my goals and trying to become the player that I've always dreamed of being. So I don't think in the three weeks I'm maybe not qualified yet to know that my life's changed forever. But I think only on paper at the moment.
Q. A quick follow. I'm sure there was a huge pull for you to go home and have some sort of a celebratory homecoming. How tempted were you to do that, and then just was it too far?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I was very tempted to go home. I wanted to see my mom and my sister and my friends and also share in the celebrations with all the golf fans in Australia. It was an incredible response to winning. The Prime Minister of Australia called me. Like I said, I was overwhelmed. Also, I talked this one over with the people that are around me and we're in the middle of the year, and, yes, it's cause for celebration but we have a plan in place, and like I said, it's hopefully not going to stop with the Masters at the moment. I want to keep focused while I can and try to make this my biggest year yet, and I think we can rustle up some celebration when I get home at the end of the year.
Q. When do you feel that - did you just wake up one morning and it dawned on you that you had actually won the Masters? And secondly, Greg is also of the belief that this is not a one and done deal for you, but he has said he thinks you're going to win more majors than any Australian, which is Peter Thomson at five. You have a long way to go now. Do you feel a bit of pressure from that too?
ADAM SCOTT: To get to the first part of the question, I don't wake up and think I've won the Masters. But when I walk in the closet and I put the green jacket on every morning, I do (laughing). I've enjoyed that. I've missed it the last couple days. It's the first couple days I haven't had it with me, so that's been a lot of fun just wearing it around the house.
As far as Greg, look, Greg's had a huge belief in me. Again, saying things like that, he strongly believes in my ability and he's always pushed me to achieve. Slowly but surely I'm getting there maybe. But I don't know how you put a number on how many majors you want to win. To win more than five would be a dream career, obviously. There aren't too many guys lately that have been able to do that. I think Faldo, other than Tiger, Faldo's the only guy to have, since 1980, maybe, to have won more than five.
It's a good goal to have. I should set my goals high like I always have. Like I said, if I can find the balance of using this as a motivator and take the confidence out of what I was able to do at Augusta, then hopefully the floodgates can open. It happened a little bit for Phil Mickelson - well, a lot for him when he finally won his first major. He won four quite quickly after that. So if I keep focused, I think I believe I've got more in me. How many, I don't know. But I think if I keep doing the same things, I'll give myself a chance to win them.
Q. Are you going to be relieved in any way when the USGA and R&A make their final decision on anchoring maybe just to get the debate out of the way? And if they do ban it and the Tour goes along with it, do you have a backup plan for three years down the road to working a conventional putting method into your practice?
ADAM SCOTT: I think, yeah, I think I'll be relieved when it's all over and we can all get beyond it. I may or may not like the outcome of that, but I think we've all spent enough energy on it now, doing what they're doing. No, I don't really have a backup plan. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and deal with it then. I don't think there will be anything much for me to change. If I have to separate the putter a millimeter from my chest, then I'll do that.
Q. Will three years be enough time to prepare?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, tomorrow is enough time for me. I don't see myself putting any different looks wise. My hand will be slightly off my chest, probably.
Q. Taking you back to the Shark, obviously, he's revered back home as the icon of Australian golf. Do you see yourself being that guy in the future and being on par if not above him in the future?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know. I think only my performance can dictate that. He is - I mean, look, it's very hard. Greg was revered around the world. He was the best in the world. He wasn't just the best Aussie golfer at the time, he was No. 1 in the world for the better part of ten years as I grew up. That's a different level than where I'm at. But you don't know. If I go on to win more tournaments and hopefully get to number 1 someday, then maybe. I hope that will be as positive an impact as he had on the game. If someone's got to keep helping golf, and we've been lucky because we've had so many good players the last ten years, and that was Greg's influence that brought them out here, and that's got to keep happening. So this is a good boost for golf back at home, for sure.
Q. To follow up on that. That's where I'm getting at. The game needs a bit of pushing in the Outback. You've given it a tremendous boost already. The numbers are apparently going up in the last three weeks that are phenomenal. Do you see yourself being that guy, too, the one that makes kids for the next - we have a guy sitting here in ten years' time maybe that won this tournament because of you?
ADAM SCOTT: Maybe so, but like I said, I think we've been lucky we've had so many world class players over the last ten years. I think the nice thing for myself and maybe the other guys is there was a group of us. It wasn't lumped on one guy's shoulders like Greg had really. Although we had other great players, but he was bigger than everyone. He was. He was larger than life. I don't think I'm at that point at all. I still encourage the other guys and Aussies to keep playing well so we share that responsibility. Because, I think - you know, I grew up seeing that Greg had a tough time in Australia.
It was very hard for him. He came back and supported it, but he was under the microscope, and that is a tough position to be in, especially in your home country when you're away all year and you want to come home and enjoy being home. I think he's handled it very well because he was right under the spotlight. But we'll deal with it the best we can. But we've got so many good players, I don't think it needs to all fall on my shoulders, that's for sure.
Q. Looking back, is there anything you point to as the difference in winning a major and why you hadn't before? Is it anything specific or do you just find it to be a bit of a fine line between the difference between coming close and getting it done?
ADAM SCOTT: Golf is a very fine line. I think we all know that. The difference between winning and not for the last couple years for me has been balancing on a knife's edge, really. I felt last year like I could have won three of the majors with pivotal moments going my way or not, and I didn't win any of them. Then you do at Augusta. But it's putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, and that's been a process over the last few years for me, and it all kind of got put together at Augusta.
I think a couple little things that were learned at Lytham I was able to use physically on the course, but I'd practiced them. I'd worked hard on that and it paid off at Augusta. You've just got to put those pieces of the puzzle together and then keep going through the motions or the journey and believe that it's going to happen. I think overall the biggest difference for me is the last couple of years I've had a real belief in my ability that I can win big tournaments.
Q. You talked about some of the things that you took from Lytham to Augusta. Can you talk mentally about what maybe you took out of that, about how you handled it in the aftermath and bringing it to Augusta? Were there some things psychologically that you worked on or that you learned?
ADAM SCOTT: That was the bit that worried me least about Lytham, I think. I just think I had gained good perspective on my game over the last couple years and the way I had gone about preparing for big tournaments was much better. At the time I was really into the process of getting better, so it was devastating and it did hurt, but I was just so happy to be playing like that in a big tournament. It's something that hadn't happened much for me in my career, and I felt it should have. So getting to that point was satisfying. You don't like to lose a golf tournament, let alone a major, but it happens, and I've won lots of golf tournaments and closed very well and I've lost a couple. The more you're in that position, the more either of those things can happen.
The psychological point that I liked out of it is I didn't let that worry me too much. I lost a tournament before. This one happened to be the biggest one, but the most important thing was that I get back in that position and don't make it a habit, I think, and that's what I was probably conscious of at the Australian Masters last year is the next time I was in a winning position. Then, obviously, I wasn't necessarily in a winning position at Augusta until the 17th hole. That day kind of made it happen.
Q. You talked about moving the pieces of the puzzle around and you made some interesting moves the last couple years with Tony to Steve, Butch to Brad. How important were all those moves in getting you to where you are now as a Masters champion here today?
ADAM SCOTT: Look, they all played their part, and that's what I say, but I think you've got to do what's best for you. Like I said, maybe I've matured as a person and as a golfer, and that's only natural as you get older and you have some more experience and you know what works best for yourself. Professionally speaking, I've made not drastic changes, but changes that happen and changes that are normal in this kind of line of work. But I've made them because I believe they're the best changes for me and to have me in the best environment to do what I want to do.
But everything plays a part in it along the way as well. I don't forget or disregard the work that people who I've worked with in the past have put into it. They're all part of this journey with me, even though they're not working as close with me now, but I've been really lucky that all those people remain my friends and I've been able to share this with them as well. A lot of people have put a lot of time into my career, and I definitely shouldn't forget that. But everything's always changing. That's just how life is, and you have to adapt and you have to make the changes that are best for you professionally speaking, as well, otherwise the guys are too good out here for you to be not doing everything can you to make yourself play the best golf.
Q. Just to follow, your dad has been the one constant in this.
ADAM SCOTT: It's hard to change him (laughing).
Q. Not only as an advisor, but he's helping you do your deals as well. Talk to that point as well and how valuable is he to you? Even going back to last summer when you had to go back to Switzerland with him and after that?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, he's my dad, isn't he? So he's going to be there no matter what. I think it's really a unique position. He's a PGA member of Australia, and golf has been his life, so the last few weeks probably has been amazing for him in every aspect. But it was great that he was there. He is. He's been a constant. He's been my main advisor through all of this. I'm sure there have been hard things for him to deal with, as well, and he's not out here as much so he doesn't see everything on a daily basis, but he's an incredibly smart guy. I think the knowledge and perspective he's passed on to me certainly helped me both on and off the golf course. Just lucky, I've been very lucky that my parents are really grounded and they've got a great background in golf. I mean, mom's a good player, too. So they're there for me when you need them. They're just great parents. So I'm lucky to have them involved even more than just as my dad. He's got a great understanding of my game, but he doesn't tell me how to play, fortunately.
Q. He's got a unique putting stroke, doesn't he?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, he's a side saddler.
Q. He looks at the hole?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, he looks at the hole. So maybe that's the direction for me if they change the putter. He'll be my putting coach. But, look, they've put so much into my career, and I think they put a lot in recently. But think back to junior golf days where they drove me all around Queensland. They sacrificed a lot, so nice for them to really feel like it was all worth it probably.
Q. You won this tournament at such a young age. What did that do for your self belief, and what did that do to ratchet up the expectations for you?
ADAM SCOTT: I think it definitely put the expectations up. But at that age and where I was at, it just all happened kind of easily, and you just expect it to keep happening. And I won other tournaments, but looking back on it I felt winning this tournament at that young age put me on a springboard to become one of the best players in the world and continue to win big tournaments. This is a very, very big tournament, and by that I mean World Golf events and majors and the Players, and it didn't happen. I won some Tour events and other events around the world, but it didn't get me into a position where I was consistently performing well in big events. I think I know why now. I just wasn't structured enough back then, but that's young and it's all coming a bit too easy at that point, I think.
It's a different game now. There are so many guys with so much talent working so hard, and that's got to be the mantra for everyone out here, otherwise you're just not going to achieve. Back then your talent could show up on a week, like it did here at the Players that year, and everything went my way. Now to give yourself the best chance you kind of have to have the steps in place to do that. That's what I see with the guys out here now, so talented and working so hard that you'd better be doing that or you're not going to compete.
Q. I want to talk about UNIQLO. In Japan your new clothes are very famous because they make UNIQLO, but a very decent priced product. Now a lot of people in Japan are buying your clothing. Did you have any hesitation to choose this brand compared to your former one? And what do you like about your new clothes?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't think I really had any hesitation because traditionally, for me, I've not really worn traditional sports clothing. I've been associated with more fashion brands, which UNIQLO is, so, for me, I thought that continued with the image that I've always had, and I was excited about that opportunity to do that because it's the potential to cross over and to bring some people who aren't in golf into golf and vice versa, take golf and fashion, and that's been a big thing out here for a few years. So it was an exciting opportunity for me, and I was immediately comfortable wearing the polo shirts. They're, like you said, they're good quality, and I think they look good. So I've been enjoying wearing them all year, and it was obviously nice timing for UNIQLO that we started the week of the Masters. It's exciting times. I love Japan. I have a lot of Japanese friends from high school, and I know I'll be going over there if not this year, next year.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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