Scott slows youth movement at PGA National
Reminder sent at The Honda Classic that the 35-year-old Australian is still one to watch
February 28, 2016
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Adam Scott grinded out a win at The Honda Classic and earned his 12th PGA TOUR title. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- In the time between Adam Scott’s victory at Colonial in 2014 and his win Sunday at The Honda Classic, Jordan Spieth hoisted eight trophies, Rory McIlroy seven and Jason Day five.
The three 20-somethings played keep-away with the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, while the 35-year-old Scott became somewhat of a forgotten figure.
The Aussie, who won his first and only major at the 2013 Masters and reached No. 1 for the first time with that win at Colonial, dipped to 16th and rarely found himself in contention.
He was getting left behind.
“Probably, if it dragged on a bit longer,” said Scott after an even-par 70 Sunday at PGA National to win by one over Sergio Garcia. “You can't be too reactive to things.”
The reaction over the last two years, however, was that the balance of power in the game was shifting. And with a ban on anchored putters going into effect Jan. 1 of this year, Scott’s best years might be coming to an end.
Scott made the switch to the broomstick in 2011 and had instant success, racking up seven top 10s that season, including a win at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and a runner-up at the Masters.
A little more than two years later he got his Green Jacket, making a 15-foot birdie putt to beat Angel Cabrera in a playoff. The following spring, he was on top of the world.
But 2014 was also when Scott got married and a little more than a year later became a father for the first time. Along the way he also changed caddies, switched putters and watched as Spieth, Day and McIlroy racked up a combined 20 titles since his last.
Then came Sunday.
Tied for the lead at the start of the final round at PGA National, Scott drilled a 15-foot birdie putt on the first hole to go up by one.
The putt provided a boost of confidence and a sense of calm.
He would need it. Over the next four hours Scott would make three bogeys and just one birdie.
Fortunately for the Aussie, he and Garcia had separated themselves from the rest of the field, and Garcia was making more mistakes than Scott.
By the time the two got to 18, Scott had a two-shot lead. Garcia made birdie, Scott tapped in for par from 2 feet and the drought was over.
“That was certainly a sense of relief to win again, after being a year-and-a-half I guess without a win,” he said, adding that he was desperate for a win. “I think it's just getting tougher and tougher to win out here.”
Few players know that as well as Scott.
When he turned pro in 2000, Tiger Woods was at the height of his dominance. Scott wasn’t sure what kind of success he would have.
Now in his mid 30s, he was watching as another crop of young, talented players rose to the top of the sport.
In between, he figured out a few things.
“I think one of the reasons why I didn't succeed at the biggest events 10 years ago was I didn't work smart enough or hard enough,” Scott said. “There was a guy who was doing it smarter and better than everyone, by far, at that point.
“I think if I want to achieve what I want out of this game, I have that kind of smaller window. And I know once I get to 40 years old, it's just the facts, it's going to get harder and harder for me, because there's some 17-year-old right now who will be 22 out here killing it and I'm going to be 40 and it's going to be hard for me to keep pace.”
Scott’s window of success might be smaller than that of Spieth’s, Day’s, or McIlroy’s, but it’s far from closed. At the end of last year, Scott finished second, fifth and second in a span of four starts. In his last two starts the last two weeks he has finished second and now first.
“It's amazing in a couple weeks how quickly things turn around,” Scott said. “I've played really well the last couple of weeks, and a couple of those guys who were so outstanding last summer haven't played that great in the last couple of weeks. You know, you feel like the gap is really not that big at all. So you've got to keep some things in perspective and not get panicky.
“But I know my window is much smaller than Jordan, Rory, Rickie (Fowler), Jason and a whole list of other good, young players. So I can't afford to sit back and just wait for it to happen. I've got to keep working on making it happen.”
Adam Scott hangs on to win at The Honda Classic