By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Adam Scott was 23 years old when he won THE PLAYERS Championship in 2004.
He thought the victory in the PGA TOUR's signature event would be a catalyst to success, and in many ways it was. Scott won five times in the next six years, including the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, which at the time attracted the top 30 money winners on TOUR and now does the same for those in the FedExCup standings.
But the talented Aussie didn't win his first World Golf Championships event until 2011 when he was 31 and his first major until last month's Masters. He has the benefit of experience now, and the man who squandered a four-stroke lead with four holes remaining at last year's British Open knows how hard winning really is.
"I think it definitely put the expectations up," Scott said of THE PLAYERS win. "But at that age and where I was at, it just all happened kind of easily, and you just expect it to keep happening. And I won other tournaments, but looking back on it I felt winning this tournament at that young age put me on a springboard to become one of the best players in the world and continue to win big tournaments.
"This is a very, very big tournament, and by that I mean World Golf (Championships) events and majors and THE PLAYERS, and it didn't happen. I won some TOUR events and other events around the world, but it didn't get me into a position where I was consistently performing well in big events. I think I know why now. I just wasn't structured enough back then, but that's young and it's all coming a bit too easy at that point, I think."
Scott found out it wasn't easy, though. He had a dismal stretch in 2009 when he missed the cut in nine of 12 starts, including six straight, before Greg Norman made him a controversial Captain's Pick for the Presidents Cup -- and the faith of Scott's idol helped turned his game around.
"It's a different game now," Scott said, reflecting on THE PLAYERS win. "There are so many guys with so much talent working so hard, and that's got to be the mantra for everyone out here, otherwise you're just not going to achieve. Back then your talent could show up on a week, like it did here at THE PLAYERS that year, and everything went my way.
"Now to give yourself the best chance you kind of have to have the steps in place to do that. That's what I see with the guys out here now, so talented and working so hard that you'd better be doing that or you're not going to compete."