Golf Australia

No smoke and mirrors for Scott

Adam Scott
Adam Scott during his Wednesday practice round at the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach.

Adam Scott isn’t known for self-aggrandisement, even when it could easily have been justified through his stellar career.

So when he starts talking himself up on the eve of this US Open, you can take two things as read – firstly that he’ll soon try to play down the remarks, then secondly that he’s legitimately in peak form.

The Queenslander has twice this US PGA Tour season been runner-up – at Torrey Pines in January, then again at Memorial just a couple of weeks ago.

And while both were clearly not what he ideally had in mind, he’s starting to feel as if there’s something special brewing – perhaps, he almost reluctantly agreed, just as there had been in 2011 and 2012 before his breakthrough Masters triumph in 2013.

“A little bit, yeah. Certainly (from) tee to green it’s very strong and back in a place where I’d put it up with my best stuff,” Scott said after his final practice session at Pebble Beach today.

“Everyone looks at how I hit the ball, but in the past 12-18 months, my short game has been very good and I’ve leant on that a lot this year to get these good results to be perfectly honest.

“And if I’m critical, it’s more been iron play and a bit of driving that hasn’t been as sharp, but at Memorial, that was a step up in the ball-striking.

“The results were good throughout (2016), but at the moment, my short game is better now than what it was then and that’s a positive because it makes you feel like can go on the course and not have to play too safely.

“I don’t have to play like an idiot here and fire at pins hanging out over the ocean, but I can hit some shots and know I’m confident I can get out of trouble around the greens.

“And my bunker play is really good, too. I’m talking myself up a little here, but it does free you up. It’s helping my long game get back to where you need to be.”

That humble self-correction aside, that’s pretty telling stuff.

Just as he did in 2011 and 2012, Scott is building to this week on the basis of a strong major championship formline – third in last year’s US PGA Championship in August, T18 at the Masters after leading at halfway in April and eighth at this year’s PGA in May.

And he’s acutely aware, as always, that major results are how careers are ultimately judged.

“Unless you win five tour events in a row, the majors are what’s really special. Then you leave the PGA in August last year and it’s eight months until you get another crack at it,” he said.

“Now, we’ve got five weeks here (including next month’s Open Championship) and then the majors are over for another nine months, so you’ve kind of got to (make it) happen if you want something special to happen.

“But it’s all moving in the right direction, the confidence is there and I like the way this course sets up for me. A bit like at the PGA, I’m just looking forward to it starting, and that’s a nice place to be.

“I’ve been in position and haven’t quite got over the line. So my game is at a level where something big can happen.

“It’s not smoke and mirrors, it’s really good.”

Scott, as is becoming his pre-majors custom, spent several days at the host course a week before the tournament, falling in love with Pebble Beach all over again.

And he admitted to break through for a win – he’s twice finished in the top 10 – would be double special at the Californian landmark.

“Yeah. It’s spectacular. It (would be like winning) the Open at St Andrews. It might be the most spectacular venue for a golf tournament in the world. It’s amazing and spectacular out here, just beautiful.

“(My preparation) has been great. I haven’t played a lot here (in the AT&T Pro-Am) over the years and playing in February, although I did the past two, I don’t think has helped me at all other than I was here.

“So it was really good to take it in and I definitely feel like I’ve got some understanding of the golf course and I feel like it fits in to what I do well.”

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