Scott gazed at the giant crystal reward he got for winning The Barclays, the first leg of the FedExCup Playoffs. He joked that it’s big enough to fit his head in it.
Scott’s head is anything but big, but it is swelling with confidence these days and it all stems from the work he’s put in to reach the point where he is playing the best golf of his career.
“We've worked on a lot of things between his coach Brad (Malone), myself and Adam,” his caddie Steve Williams told me in the Liberty National locker room Sunday night. “We're trying to formulate a plan that keeps him playing well all the time. It's very satisfying when the things you're working on show some good results.”
Even if Scott was surprised that the latest result landed him in the interview room for the winner’s press conference Sunday night, he isn’t that he’s been in position to win on a pretty regular basis this season.
“I think I've played a lot of good golf this year, and felt I could have won a few other tournaments if things went my way, and didn't,” Scott said. “I didn't feel like I played my absolute best golf this week; certainly not with my third round, which was pretty average. But there was obviously enough good stuff, and I played pretty smart and played to my strengths and kept myself out of too much trouble.
“I don't know if it's my best golf since the Masters, but I think I've played consistently well since then and managed to win this week.”
With a major and now a Playoffs event on his resume this year, and a number of other good finishes, Scott is certainly in the Player of the Year conversation now. And who knows, he might not be done winning yet.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“It might be wishful thinking. I don't think it's going to be quite enough.” -- Adam Scott after finishing at 11 under well ahead of the leaders at The Barclays.
“I mean, shocked really that that was good enough to hold up. But I guess it's different playing an hour and a half in front of the leaders and the guys who have been under pressure all day than when you're out there. When the pressure is on you to close out, it's much harder and the holes become much harder and shots are far more crucial.” -- Scott after watching his score hold up for a one-shot win.
''I still took the trash out on Tuesday morning and we actually got a new puppy ... So not too much has changed in my life.'' -- Jason Dufner on life after winning the PGA Championship.
“His lack of winning a major is the only thing talked about, which I think is sad. I think it's ignorant.” -- Bill Haas on the focus being on Tiger Woods not winning a major in 2013 despite five other victories.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
@LindseyVonn: Proud of my man for fighting back. He's the toughest person I know. #fighter #nothingcanholdhimdown -- Vonn after boyfriend Tiger Woods played through back spasms, made two late birdies and nearly won The Barclays on Sunday.
@CaroWozniacki: Since my profile pic made big headlines I better change it again lol.. #dontbelieveallyoureadinpapers -- Wozniacki a day after rumors had swirled that her and boyfriend Rory McIlroy had broken up after each changed their profile pictures on Twitter. The two had dinner Saturday night in New York and McIlroy will be on hand for her U.S. Open match on Tuesday.
@IanJamesPoulter: The good news of today was only 1 donut shouted out Baba Booey and he was swiftly removed from the premises. -- Poulter after a fan was removed for shouting out during his swing in the opening round at The Barclays.
THE BACK NINE: 9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. What is Tiger Woods’ status for this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship and the rest of the FedExCup Playoffs? “That's all hypothetical right now,” Woods said when asked if he would be able to play next week after suffering from a stiff back and spasms last week. “I just got off and I'm not feeling my best right now.” The Deutsche Bank Championship benefits Woods’ foundation, so it would be pretty telling if he didn’t play there, especially when you take into account that it is a Playoffs event and he already missed the AT&T National with an injury, another tournament tied to his foundation.
2. Don’t be too concerned over Brandt Snedeker, who grabbed at his back during the second round at Liberty National. He said it was “just a catch” and that his back and ribs are just fine. Not that his condition of low bone density makes it any easier. He’ll continue to take a daily injection to try to build his brittle bone matter back up to avoid further injury. All the golf he’s had to play and will continue to play over the next month won’t make it easy, though.
3. The last time The Barclays was played at Liberty National, Erik Compton was at home watching from his couch and a year removed from his second heart transplant. Playing in his first Playoffs, Compton moved inside the top 100 in the FedExCup standings to advance to this week’s event at TPC Boston. You’re always taught to root for the story not the person, but in this case it’s hard not to do both.
4. The biggest difference between Kevin Chappell prior to this year’s Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance and Kevin Chappell now is the work he’s put in with short game coach James Sieckmann, who has helped him visualize the ball going in the hole. Chappell has also added more structure to his routine and it has paid off. Before the Memorial Tournament, he’d missed seven cuts. Since then, he has missed just one.
5. Likewise, Gary Woodland seems to be finding his form again with a win and a runner-up in two of his last three starts. Woodland made a lot of changes on the course and off it in the last year -- he also injured both wrists last season. He’s been working with Claude Harmon on his swing, hired Pat Goss to help with his short game and the week of the Reno-Tahoe Open brought on board mental coach Julie Elion. “Obviously I had made a bunch of cuts, kind of forcing it a little bit, trying to get back to where I was really with every golf shot and she helped me just let it go and relax,” Woodland said. “I'm in a great mental state right now and I'm playing pretty well.”
6. So is Rory McIlroy. He struggled on Sunday of The Barclays, but he managed to put together some pretty good golf over the first three rounds, including a 65 in the second round. It’s all about confidence right now for the former No. 1, and with every good round he gains a little more of it. His swing is still inconsistent, and he’ll work with coach Michael Bannon in the off week of the Playoffs, but he’s getting closer to being in contention on a regular basis again.
7. Stat of the Week I: Every year the game seemingly gets younger with more and more players winning earlier in their careers. But a player's prime still seems to be in his 30s. Scott became the 13th player in his 30s to win this season and it was the 20th win by that group this year. By comparison, 11 players in their 20s have won and five in their 40s.
8. Stat of the Week II: Five. That’s how many players moved inside the top 100 in the FedExCup standings to advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship. That includes Camilo Villegas, who at one point looked like he was eliminated after missing a 6-footer on the last hole only to get back in when Aaron Baddeley bogeyed his last three holes.
9. Stat of the Week III: Through the first three rounds last week, Matt Kuchar was the only player to have birdied all six par 5s at Liberty National and consequently he led going into Sunday. Woods, meanwhile, had birdied just one of them and was nine back as a result. Woods birdied two of them on Sunday but bogeyed the third. He just didn’t take advantage of the par 5s and that hurt him as much as anything.
MONDAY BACKSPIN MAILBAG
Why doesn’t the PGA TOUR do anything about the silly behavior of the galleries and those yelling out mashed potatoes? -- Patrick McLaughlin
I addressed this in last week’s mailbag, Patrick, and basically it comes down to what can you do? If a fan yells something out after a shot, fine. If it’s before or during the shot, that’s where the problem is. At The Barclays, a fan was removed for doing just that, yelling out “Baba Booey” during Ian Poulter’s swing at one point in the opening round.
I noticed that Lee Westwood missed two birdie putts from 9 and 10 feet on his first two holes last week. Will he ever fix this? -- Blake
Good question. Putting has been a major problem for Westwood this year and throughout much of his career. He’s 170th in strokes gained-putting and to your point he’s 177th between 5 and 10 feet, making just 76 of 162 putts this year from that range. He wasn’t much better at The Barclays, giving strokes back to the field in three of his four rounds and ranking 65th in the field in strokes gained-putting.
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FORWARD SPIN: WHO I LIKE THIS WEEK
In the 10-year history of the Deutsche Bank Championship, Tiger Woods has never finished lower than 11th, which includes a win there in 2006. But with his health a question mark it’s hard to know how he’ll play this week. The extra day off will help. Rory McIlroy is the defending champion and a return to a place he has won before should be a boost to his growing confidence, but keep an eye on Steve Stricker. He skipped last week’s The Barclays but is in the field this week, and he’s won at TPC Boston before. He has finished in the top 15 five more times.