09 Mar 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Scott recalls The Players triumph

by Dane Heverin

A fresh-faced Adam Scott with The Players Championship trophy in 2004.
A fresh-faced Adam Scott with The Players Championship trophy in 2004.

Almost two decades on from a win that put him “on the springboard to be one of the best players in the world”, Adam Scott has reflected on his The Players Championship triumph at TPC Sawgrass.

Scott tees it up at the flagship PGA Tour event in Florida this week for a 21st time in his illustrious career and after playing a practice round with countrymen Jason Day and Min Woo Lee, he took time out to recall his dramatic victory in 2004.

The then 23-year-old was a player on the rise as he had already claimed a win on the PGA Tour, but he showed maturity beyond his years to bounce back from a mistake at the 72nd hole that could have erased his two-shot lead.

The 18th hole of TPC Sawgrass’ The Players Stadium Course has water down the entire left-hand side and Scott did the unthinkable of dumping his second shot into the drink.

“It was not easy to get that putt after hitting my second shot into water and kind of managing to sneak a nervous pitch up to about 10 feet,” he recalled.

“I do remember being incredibly calm over that putt. I don’t know if I told myself something like if I had this given to you at the start of the week, you’d be so happy. I really felt the shot into the water was a distant memory at that moment. I was putting really well that week. I would say in my whole career I had many important putts and that one was the most calm I ever felt.”

At the time Scott was the youngest winner of The Players Championship – until his Presidents Cup teammate Si Woo Kim lifted the trophy in 2017 – and his feat was a huge step towards superstardom.

He was already a big name in Australia, but people around the world stood up and took note of the Queenslander.

“It was a really big deal. The Players was a tournament that in Australia I grew up watching” Scott said.

“Steve Elkington won it a couple of times, Greg Norman won it, it was known as the strongest field in the game on one of the most severe golf courses in the game. The course has such a reputation. To come up on top, it was such really an amazing feeling. Although I’d won a PGA Tour event before, I think it proved to myself that I could beat the best.”

This week he is eager to prove once again that he can better the world’s top players, and so too are the six other Australians in the field.

Jason Day, another former world number one and past champion at The Players, has made a resurgence to start the year with four straight top ten finishes on the PGA Tour.

He is now ranked No. 43 in the world and needs to continue his good form to step closer towards earning a return to The Masters – he was not in the field at Augusta National last year - via being ranked inside the world top 50 the week prior to the first major of the year.

Min Woo Lee and Lucas Herbert are in a similar predicament and their chances of playing for the green jacket are balancing on a knife’s edge.

World No. 50 Lee is making his debut in The Players, while world. No 51 Herbert is in the field for a second straight year, and they will both need to bounce back from missed cuts at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Harrison Endycott also features in event for the first time as he continues his maiden PGA Tour season. Presidents Cup star Cam Davis is out to end a run of five consecutive missed cuts and Aaron Baddeley returns to TPC Sawgrass for the first time since 2019.

The Asian Tour has 14 Australians in action this week at the International Series Thailand – the series introduced last year with elevated prize purses that offers an exemption to the LIV Golf League for the player who tops its Order of Merit.

Travis Smyth (seventh) and John Lyras (12th) are the two best-placed Australians on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, and they will be out move up in the standings in the $US 2 million tournament.

Tom Power Horan will be a player to watch out for as he has been in very impressive form on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, and he is balancing playing opportunities between both tours.

Kirsten Rudgeley is teeing up on the Ladies European Tour in the South African Women’s Open after she finished tied eighth in her first event as a Tour member last week, while the DP World Tour is also in Africa for the Magical Kenya Open with Blake Windred the lone Australian taking part.

Round One Tee Times AEDT

PGA Tour

The Players Championship

TPC Sawgrass (The Players Stadium Course), Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

10.50pm Min Woo Lee, Robby Shelton, Austin Smotherman

11.45pm Cam Davis, Trey Mullinax, Tyler Duncan

11.45pm* Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler

12.29am* Ryan Fox (NZ), Jhonattan Vegas, Peter Malnati

12.51am Aaron Baddeley, David Lingmerth, Ben Martin

12.51am* Harrison Endycott, Nick Hardy, Eric Cole

4.23am Lucas Herbert, Jason Day, Aaron Wise

Defending champion: Cameron Smith

Past Aussie winners: Cameron Smith (2022), Jason Day (2016), Adam Scott (2004), Steve Elkington (1991, 1997), Greg Norman (1994)

Top Aussie prediction: Jason Day

TV times: Live 11.30pm-10am Friday, Saturday; Live 12.30am-10am Sunday; Live 11.30pm-9am Monday on Fox Sports 503 and 505.

Asian Tour

International Series Thailand

Black Mountain Golf Club, Hin Lek Fai, Thailand

10.45am* Douglas Klein, Ekpharit Wu, Taichi Kho

11.35am* Travis Smyth, Sebastian Soderberg, Phachara Khongwatmai

11.45am* Scott Hend, Ryosuke Kinoshita, Gunn Charoenkul

11.55am* John Lyras, Meenwhee Kim, Tomoyo Ikemura

12.05pm* Marcus Fraser, Johan Edfors, Jeev Milkha Singh

12.15pm* Jack Thompson, Chikkarangappa S, Rattanon Wannasrichan

12.25pm* Harrison Gilbert, Ruichi Oiwa, Kwanchai Tannin

12.35pm* Jack Murdoch, Kartik Sharma, Tanapat Pichaikool

2.15pm Zach Murray, Yikeun Chang, Yosuke Asaji

2.35pm Nick Voke (NZ), David Hague, Mj Viljoen

3.55pm Andrew Dodt, Trevor Simsby, Taehee Lee

4.05pm Wade Ormsby, Richard T. Lee, Ben Leong

4.45pm Ben Campbell (NZ), Bjorn Hellgren, Chan Shih-chang

4.45pm* Kevin Yuan, Poom Saksansin, Shergo Al Kurdi

5.05pm Todd Sinnott, Jarin Todd, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit

5.15pm Tom Power Horan, Yeongsu Kim, Chen Guxin

Defending champiom: Sihwan Kim

Past Aussie winners: Nil

Top Aussie prediction: Travis Smyth

TV times: Live 5:30pm-9:30pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Fox Sports 503.

Ladies European Tour

Investec South African Women’s Open

Steenberg Golf Club, Cape Town, South Africa

5.50pm* Kirsten Rudgeley, Linnea Strom, Anais Meyssonnier

Defending champion: Lee-Anne Pace

Past Aussie winners: Nil

Top Aussie prediction: Kirsten Rudgeley

DP World Tour

Magical Kenya Open Presented by Absa

Muthaiga GC, Nairobi, Kenya

10.10pm Blake Windred, Jannik De Bruyn, Craig Howie

Defending champion: Ashun Wu

Past Aussie winners: Nil

Top Aussie prediction: Blake Windred

TV times: Live 9:30pm-12.55am Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on Fox Sports 503.

PGA Tour Canada

Qualifying Tournament USA East 3

RTJ Golf Trail – Highland Oaks, Dothan, Alabama

Australasians in the field: Max Charles (a), Henry Spring (NZ)

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