By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- After finishing third last week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, Adam Scott flew off to get an early preview of Augusta National.
Joining him on the trip: Ernie Els.
Awkward? Not for these longtime friends, even after Els’ second British Open crown came in large part to Scott’s slow-motion implosion over Royal Lytham’s final four holes.
“Whether he won it, or I helped him win it a little bit – it doesn’t matter. He won it,” Scott said after Friday’s second-round 66 moved him into contention at the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
“It probably eased the pain a little bit that he’s a close friend of mine, and I could feel some happiness for him.”
Likewise, Els was profuse in his sympathy almost from the moment he took possession of the Claret Jug. Their friendship goes back to when Scott was just starting to make a name for himself, when Els already had won two majors.
Scott, 32, stood at the doorstep of his first major with four holes to play at Royal Lytham, with Els having already completed his round.
Instead, four bogeys provided a stunning reversal of fortune as Els ended a 10-year drought in majors.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen on a golf course,” said Scott, who also took part in an Els for Autism event Monday before they took off for Augusta. “I’ve played so much golf with him and seen him do such incredible things. I think he could have won 10 majors, so he’s paid his dues.”
Rather than lament his loss, Scott takes heart in the fact that he’s now making noise in majors after nearly a decade of silence.
“It was a long time (that) I didn’t really look like I was a major contender,” he said, “and now I feel like I am. So I feel like now’s my time; it’s up to me to make it happen.
“Everyone’s path to that success is different. I mean, (Phil) Mickelson knocked on the door for years and years and then the floodgates opened for him. I’ve gotten my game to a point where I feel like I’m right there. Hopefully I can get the first one, and then we’ll see.”