Adam Scott may be in the richest vein of form in his life, but another visit to his beloved Royal Melbourne has him wired up for another strong finish this week in the Talisker Australian Masters, starting tomorrow.
Scott, the world No. 2, compares Royal Melbourne's famous composite course with the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland in terms of places where a golfer wants to perform well. He has never won at RM, although he almost took the old Heineken Classic in 2004 at the venue before that tournament folded, going head-to-head with his pal Ernie Els on the final day.
"I just love this golf course,'' he told the media today on the eve of the $1 million tournament. "The greens are phenomenal. The way it's held up to the rain already, you can tell we're going to have a great golf course no matter what happens this week.
"People say you haven't achieved everything in golf unless you've won the Open at St Andrews, but for an Australian to win a tournament at Royal Melbourne is the same kind of thing, and I'd love to do that.''
The 33-year-old Scott won the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines in Queensland last week despite carrying weight of expectation in his first appearance at home since his triumph at Augusta National in this year's Masters tournament, the first by an Australian.
Once again, he confronts a situation this week where everyone wants to talk about the famous green jacket (which he has brought along for the ride to Melbourne). But he's happy to talk Augusta if people want to talk about it. "It's probably going to be the highlight of my career no matter what happens from here, just with everything that happened at Augusta and being the first Aussie to win it.''
Scott is in a good head space, and he believes his win in the Australian Masters this time last year when he duelled with Englishman Ian Poulter through the weekend, was important, particularly in the sense that he had thrown away the British Open Championship earlier in the year. As he said, nobody wanted to see him make a habit of that.
"Any time you're in contention, whether it's the Australian Masters or the Saturday comp, and you're in that position, it matters for the next time. So to finish off strong was huge there. Although it wasn't that kind of finish at Augusta -- I was hanging around all day and then by the 17th I was in good shape -- it gave me some confidence. Because if I didn't have that experience and I had to fall back on Lytham, it would've been a different mindset.''
Scott continues to close the gap on world No. 1 Tiger Woods, 12.26 ranking points to 9.25, although he even if his red hot form continued he is still quite a few months away from reaching the top of the list for the first time. At least though, he can think about it a little.
"That's like the wild childhood dream,'' he said. "It's become so much about winning majors and tournaments, and that's where I put my focus. For so long, No. 1 was so far from being attainable for me. I sat there and watched Tiger Woods be double the points ahead of the second player in the world. It never really entered my mind, but I've never been closer now.
"I think if I keep working the way I have been and performing the way I have been, it's possible to get there. I don't think I'm far off being the best player in the world at the moment, but I'm going to have to raise my game to that next level and the only way to get there is to win tournaments, because the guy who's there is winning five a year ... average. I've got to raise my game to get there but it's as close as it's ever been.''
Royal Melbourne is saturated after driving rain that impacted on the pro-am today, making it play longer and tougher. Against that, the greens will be more manageable when the players hit off tomorrow morning in the Australian Masters. Scott his a two-iron second shot into one of the longer par-fours, and a five-iron into another when he would normally manage it with a wedge.
"The ball's not going very far,'' he said. "Ball-striking's going to be at a premium if the conditions stay the same. This is a golf course that there's no one way to player. It doesn't favour anybody; it favours the guy who's creative and figures out how to get the ball in the hole.''
Scott hits off at 8am today and is the raging favourite for the event along with American Matt Kucher, the world No. 8.