Insider: Scott aims to keep his favorite garment
April 09, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Adam Scott really likes his Green Jacket and aims to retain it for another year. (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Only three times in the previous 77 editions of the Masters Tournament has a champion successfully defended his title.
In other words, history isn’t on Adam Scott’s side. But he’s playing for it, not against it, and at last check ghosts of tournament’s past won’t hit any shots this week. The Aussie has more working in his favor than he ever has at any point in his career.
“There’s no question that any player when they win a major they really grow some confidence,” Scott’s caddie Steve Williams said. “Particularly the way Adam won that tournament -- to hole two putts, the two biggest putts of his life -- that was a real turning point for him.”
So was the 2010 Masters, which is when Scott finally started to feel comfortable at Augusta National. In his previous eight trips he had just one top 10. That year, he opened with a 69 and though he never truly got in contention managed to tie for 18th.
It was his best finish since a tie for ninth in 2002, his first trip down Magnolia Lane.
“I played beautiful tee-to-green,” Scott remembered. “My preparation had somewhat improved from 2009, kind of gave me a little more confidence coming here that year. (I) saw the good shots getting rewarded again, aiming at the right places and managing myself well.
“After that, I felt like I had the ability again to compete around this golf course.”
The following year, Scott was in sole possession of the lead as he played the 71st hole but was passed by Charl Schwartzel, who made four straight birdies to win by two. In 2012, Scott tied for eighth on the strength of a final-round 66.
Then came last season.
Scott played beautifully for the first three days and entered the final round just a shot off the lead.
By the time he reached 18, he was tied at the top and in a steady rain rolled in a 25-foot putt for birdie. Playing in the group behind him, Angel Cabrera followed with an approach to 3 feet and a birdie of his own to force a playoff.
After each made par on 18 and Cabrera missed his birdie attempt on the 10th Scott drained a 12-footer to give himself his first major and Australia its first Green Jacket.
It was a culmination of just how far Scott had come.
“Everything is better,” Williams said of Scott’s game since he began carrying his bag three years ago. It didn’t hurt, either, that the caddie brought loads of experience with him after being on the winning end of 13 major championships with Tiger Woods, including three Masters titles. “The parts of his game that really needed improving -- chipping and putting -- have improved.”
When Scott arrived at Augusta National this week, he found himself feeling nostalgic.
There were a couple of weekend rounds with his father, Phil. Re-creating his putts on 18 and 10. A spot in the Champions locker room, where he is sharing a locker with three-time Masters winner Gary Player.
“He gets a lot of mail, so there's not a lot of room for myself in there," Scott joked. "But we make it work.”
Then it hit him. He has work to do this week if he wants to slip his arms into another Green Jacket this year.
“All of (it is) pretty good stuff,” Scott continued. “It's something I've really been looking forward to. But as the last week came by, I also realized it would be time for me to bring the Green Jacket back and leave it here maybe. So that motivated me to work harder that last week at home and try and get myself into some kind of form that can maybe go back-to-back and keep the jacket for another year."
The last player to go back-to-back at Augusta was Woods in 2001-02. On the mend from back surgery, he won’t be a roadblock to Scott trying to add his name to a short list that includes Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Jack Nicklaus (1965-66).
Scott has also been in good form much of when he has played this season, which hasn’t been much because he has put his focus on peaking for major championships and other big tournaments.
The plan and the process have worked. In addition to last year’s Masters, Scott has seven finishes of eighth or better in the last dozen majors.
So far in 2014 he has only played in five PGA TOUR events but has finished 12th or better four times. That included the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, where he led for most of the week before being undone by a sloppy final-round 76. Scott also finished in the top 10 in both his starts in Hawaii.
This week, there have been pictures, handshakes and autographs with everyone getting a glimpse of Scott’s favorite garment. It has been an experience the 33-year-old won’t soon forget and one he’s not quite ready to let go of after all.
“I’ve really got this thing in my head that I’m quite determined to not leave it here,” Scott told reporters on Sunday of wearing the Green Jacket. “I am very determined to take it with me again next Sunday.”