November 18 2013
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
When Greg Norman tweeted congratulations and that being No. 1 in the world was next on the horizon for fellow Aussie Adam Scott, it could have been chalked up as non-objective hyperbole.
Except there's actually some truth to it.
Scott, who has never been within three points of top-ranked Tiger Woods (at least whenever Woods has been No. 1), is now 2.56 behind Woods after his victory at the Australian Masters this past weekend.
Should Scott win this week's ISPS HANDA World Cup at Royal Melbourne and next week's Australian Open at Royal Sydney, however, the Aussie could go into 2014 with less than a point separating he and Woods. Woods, meanwhile, has just one start left on his schedule this year -- his Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in early December.
"That's like the wild childhood dream," Scott said of the possibility of passing Woods, who as of Monday has 115 more total points on the two-year sliding scale. "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."
Scott has four worldwide wins this year, including the Masters, but his rise began in earnest following his crushing loss at the 2012 Open Championship.
After finishing second to Ernie Els there, Scott moved from 12th to sixth in the world. He hasn't been outside the top 10 since.
In his last 28 starts, Scott has 13 top-10 finishes, including five wins. That success can largely be traced to four changes: coach, putter, caddie and schedule.
Scott parted ways with Butch Harmon and hooked up with longtime friend (and brother-in-law) Brad Malone, switched to a long putter in 2011, hired Steve Williams full-time after Williams was fired by Woods that same year, and cut back on his globe-trotting schedule in order to focus on playing better in big events.
To that last point, over the last two years Scott has 41 worldwide starts to Woods' 39. In the last 12 majors, Scott has finished in the top 10 seven times. Four of those were finishes in the top three, including his first career victory in a major.
"I was frustrated and disappointed in my performance in big events for the most part of my career, and my coach and I identified that I really needed to change something, even change something drastically and not be afraid to do that and find a way that I can somewhat peak," Scott said this past September. "The past couple years, I've had a good balance."
And with it an opportunity to shift golf's balance of power.