Adam Scott Has His Grand Plan
Masters champion gears his schedule toward major moments
By Dave Shedloski
ARDMORE, Pa. – Adam Scott is the only player in the 113th U.S. Open who can win the Grand Slam. And that is exactly what he has been preparing to do – since 2011.
The amiable Australian instituted a new preparation regimen two years ago with the intention of winning major championships. His breakthrough victory at the Masters Tournament, where he defeated 2007 U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera in a sudden-death playoff, was validation that he was on the right track.
Now he has soggy Merion Golf Club in the crosshairs, and he will be trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2002 to win the year’s first two majors.
“I can’t lie to you; I do feel a lot better coming here, even discussing that kind of thing,” said Scott, 32, when asked about breaking through at Augusta National Golf Club for his first major title. “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.”
Scott, who in the first two rounds plays alongside Woods and 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy in a pairing of the top three players in the world rankings, visited Merion’s East Course three weeks ago, a fortuitous decision considering the amount of rain that has saturated the venerable layout since Friday. But his preparation extends well beyond trying to unlock the secrets of this classic course.
He has been steadfast and disciplined in adhering to a lighter schedule than most of his PGA Tour peers. Scott has competed just seven times this year after a relatively light 16 starts in 2012. He has to fight the urge to play more often because he is trying to peak for the four majors. But it’s not easy.
“It’s hard to sit at home some weeks when I feel like I’m playing really good 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,” Scott said. “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.”
Scott was self-deprecating in explaining how he formulated the plan. “My lack of success and 10 years of playing badly,” he said, smiling. “I’m a learner, but not a fast one, obviously.”
Not exactly true. Scott broke through at the Masters less than a year after he bogeyed the final four holes at the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England, handing the Claret Jug to his friend, Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion.
What looked like a heartbreaking loss was really nothing of the sort.
“The Open, as disappointing as that was, the self-belief it gave me, which sounds a bit odd, seeing I didn’t win, far outweighed the disappointment of it,” he said. “It was all in my hands to win or lose and I lost. 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.”
Also in his head, fortunately, is the much more gratifying memories of winning the Masters. He’ll be able to use that as he traverses Merion. Scott’s U.S. Open record isn’t stellar; his best finish in 11 starts is a tie for 15th at The Olympic Club last year.
But, as he said, he is trending in the right direction.
“I think it would be smart of me to take some things away with what I did at the Masters,” Scott said. “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.”
It’s all part of a plan, a long time in the making.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on usopen.com.