‘I’ve got to make hay in the next five years’
Adam Scott discusses his future in golf, fatherhood and a typical Friday
March 29, 2016
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The best way to describe Adam Scott -- good looks and even better-looking swing aside -- is exceedingly polite. Perhaps the best example of this came after a crushing collapse in the final round of the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, where, after recounting it all to TV and then to the rest of the media in a post-round press conference, a last, lone voice rose from the back of the room asking if the Aussie’s parents were from nearby Freckleton and if his grandmother had a house overlooking the course. Even Scott couldn’t help but laugh a little. After explaining that it was actually his dad’s cousins who lived there, and that it was his aunt who once had the house, Scott concluded with, “That’s the best I’ve got for you.”
Gracious in defeat, yes. Many other things, also yes, including fiercely private. But the 35-year-old Aussie recently spent an hour with PGATOUR.COM, opening up on a number of topics: Trying to avoid being a one-hit wonder, the majors that have slipped away, fatherhood, putting, his private life, his one and only Instagram post and what really happened to the Green Jacket one night in Australia, among other things. It turns out Scott has plenty more best in him when it comes to answering questions.
BRIAN WACKER: How often have you watched a replay of your Masters win?
ADAM SCOTT: I think I've watched it twice. It was both later in that year, and I actually haven't watched it since. I don't know why. My wife's been trying to get me to re-watch it at times when I haven't been playing my best, and that may be just to help me believe that I'm a good player. Maybe stubbornness tells me not to watch it. Sometimes I think with those things, like watching it over, might spoil the memories I have and the way they have been drawn up in my head. You still win, which is the great thing, but how (you win) is certainly evolving over the few years since.
BW: You've had chances to win a bunch of majors. Are you surprised that your first was at Augusta National?
AS: I think I had these visions as a kid that I would win the U.S. Open. I just thought, I'm a good driver of the golf ball, so I'll win a U.S. Open. I had no experience or anything to go off other than that's what I associated with the U.S. Open for some reason, which may or may not be the case. But I think probably if you asked me in 2010, I would have said yes, I'd be surprised if it was the Masters.
BW: You're not a guy who shows a lot of emotion outwardly, but on that day you did. Looking back on it now can you describe what you felt that day?
AS: I think it was probably just a buildup of a lot of things, my whole career, everything that had gone into the couple years leading up to it, the clear improvement in my game and expectation and everything. And the fact that for quite some time, well, at least my whole career and before, every Australian player kept saying, 'When is an Australian player going to win the Masters?'
BW: You haven’t won a major since. Were you or are concerned that winning the Masters would be a career-defining achievement, that you’d be a sort of one-hit wonder?
AS: I think I was aware of that straightaway, but I'd like to win another major and see how it feels. I don't know for sure if it can be topped, but it's going to be the most significant victory most likely in my career and most significant time. But I'm not settled to just win one Masters. I think I've got every reason to believe that I can win more major tournaments.
BW: You said recently that you consider Bubba Watson as the favorite this year. Why?
AS: Well, he's won two of the last four Masters. He's on a hot stretch. He has a huge level of comfort on the golf course. His form is great. He's an incredibly talented player; none of it is really conventional, but he gets the ball in the hole in the least shots a lot of times. I just picked a name because I thought that was the easiest one to pick. It's hard to not put other guys in there, too, any one of these top players. Jason Day, maybe that's the week he plays his best this year and he wins, because he's got the game to do it. So many guys have the game to do it. I'm just kind of going off form and how the guy must feel at Augusta. The firepower that Bubba takes, if he hits good drives at the right time, I mean, he's left with nothing into some of the holes.
BW: What was the most interesting experience you’ve had with the Green Jacket?
AS: There are a couple things I remember clearly, but to generalize it all is just everyone's shock of seeing the Green Jacket. It's something that no one really gets to see, ever, outside the grounds of Augusta. You don't really see the trophy presented ever on TV, either, so everyone associates the Masters with the Green Jacket, so it's like the trophy. One of the buttons was ripped off by a friend of mine because he was just so excited; you're hugging and he got a hold of it, he's got his hands on the jacket and one of the buttons came off.
BW: How did you get that repaired? Did you call Augusta National?
AS: It was in Australia, so we patched that one up quickly. I think it was a home job actually, but I didn't do it.
BW: That’s a relief. Another Masters aside, what’s the one major you want to win the most?
AS: You'd never be picky but I'd love to win The Open. It’s the tournament that I watched Greg (Norman) win as a kid, Finchie (Ian Baker-Finch) win as a kid. The amount of enjoyment I have playing that, the preparation for it, it's so different than any other tournament we play ... what goes into it, the atmosphere. I love it all. I've been so close a few times, but fortunately I'll get some more opportunities.
BW: You have had a chance arguably to win any or all of the last handful of Open Championships. Do you feel like you gave some of those away?
AS: It's horrible to say that you gave it away, but you know, the first one at Lytham (in 2012) was really just shocking. There's no way to explain it. It was down to me. It was just me. I only had me to beat and it was just about getting it in the house and I just didn't do it. As part of that, it was one of the biggest learning experiences of my career and that held me in such great measure for what came in eight months' time. The others are just part of those disappointments of golf. To think I've played that much good golf in The Open in the last four years and not won is pretty annoying. Yeah, I'd like that to end. Addressing whatever's going on in my head in the way I execute down the stretch in contention is something that I'm constantly addressing to get better at because I seem to put myself in position enough, and I don't think I win enough.
BW: You're close with your parents, especially your dad Phil, who was involved in golf and introduced you to the game. You’ve also talked about spending time with him after the loss at Lytham. What’s the important lesson you've learned from him?
AS: There are a couple things that stand out to me. I think early, when I was a teenager, let's say, and my dad was coaching me until I was 19 when I got introduced to Butch Harmon, his way of motivating me was maybe different. He knew I had signs to be a good player but at times, like every teenager, I probably was lazy. The one thing that stood out that he had to say a few times to me was, 'You know, that's fine, you can sit on the couch, it's Saturday, and watch TV, but that will be just one more day before you win the next tournament or one more day before you achieve what you want out of the game.' It didn't mean that I had to go hit 400 golf balls and play until my hands bled, but it just made the point that you're not going to get anything sitting on the couch watching cartoons this week.
BW: But you’ve admitted that early in your career you didn’t work as hard as you could have. At what point did you figure that out and that you needed to work harder?
AS: I see a really clear line in my career around 2009, 2010, where I started to figure things out, a bit with myself, a bit with the people around me, putting all the ingredients of the recipe together, and it came clear to me at that point. I really don't have regrets that I didn't work harder. I could have, honestly, yeah, I could have worked harder. But I didn't have all this knowledge when I was younger. The right messages weren't getting through from whoever was around me to work harder and make the absolute most of this opportunity.
BW: You had this sort of playboy image, too -- young, good-looking guy, traveling the world, life at your feet. Was that image sort of uncomfortable for you or something you had to adjust to?
AS: I don't think there was an adjustment for me. I think you could use the word uncomfortable. I didn't give myself that label by my actions or anything. I was just being me. I don't think I had to adjust to anything because I was going to not just play a role that people saw. I was just trying to be myself. I think back then everyone was looking to these young players that could challenge Tiger, and in fairness, really only Sergio (Garcia) played anywhere near a level at some point that probably warranted that kind of compliment. I was lucky that people thought I potentially had the talent to do that, and there were Charles Howell III and Justin Rose and Trevor Immelman and Aaron Baddeley. We're all kind of the same age and came out together and none of us really lived up the to billing of challenging Tiger in his prime. But that's the good thing about the game that there are so many of these stories to be had. Some will play out, and then you guys look great for identifying it, and some don't. But that group of guys have, all of us, have gone on to have very successful careers on the PGA TOUR, which is quite amazing from that group that came out early; that we have all still gone on and adjusted, and Trevor and myself have won majors, and Sergio is a great player and should win a major, and Aaron and Charles have won TOUR events. It's quite a batch.
BW: Is it easy to fall into a trap -- you’re not winning as much as you might expect or others might expect, but you’re playing well and life is good jet-setting around the globe?
AS: It's easy to be complacent, for sure. If you go back to the start of my career, it's very different than it is now. I started in Europe. It was far less serious a stage of life and the game than it is now out here on the PGA TOUR. Some of my favorite memories are from those first years in Europe and then slowly I made my way over to be in the States. But I think there were parts of that. It did get to a point that in 2008, 2009, where the travel just got a bit tiring, really. Probably no coincidence, it coincided with the worst results, as well. I felt when I got to be about 30, I needed to kind of man up a bit and figure out what I wanted for myself to be completely happy with my golf and my life.
BW: Did your struggles with the putter put a lot of pressure on the rest of your game?
AS: I just didn't have the complete plan for the big events early in my career. I just treated it like any other week. Yeah, some weeks it was down to the putter, had to perform, otherwise I was out of it, and that's pressure. Other weeks my game wasn't there just because I didn't have an overall plan. It was kind of like, 'You have tons of talent, you're a good player, see what happens this week.' And I think that was obviously wrong. I can't really blame it on just putting. At Oakmont (in 2007), I hit six greens in two days. It didn't matter how good I putted, I'm not having a good score. I can hit it bad, too, just like anyone.
BW: You played a casual six-ball in Hawaii with some friends in the beginning of 2011. What was the significance of that round for you?
AS: Nice homework there. It was around that time of 2010 where I said that frustration level was so high that even though I won two events, I wasn’t playing well consistently enough. I played with some buddies in a six-ball like you mentioned, which I never normally do. Golf is so serious, it was a business. But their attitudes toward me were to just relax a little bit and enjoy all this and the good time we were having, instead of being out there being miserable in what was a social round of golf. We kind of finished near dark, had a lot of laughs, carried on. Ever since that day, I just enjoy playing with my mates so much more, playing with whoever, playing pro-ams, playing with my parents, it's all a lot easier. The next day I went and picked up the broomstick putter.
BW: You are old enough to have played against Tiger in his prime, but young enough to see this next generation of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler have success. What was it like playing against Tiger in his prime?
AS: I had an incredible amount of access to Tiger through Butch (Harmon), so I knew it from a different sense. He's just better at driving, he's better at iron play, he's a far better chipper and a far better putter. I won the Deutsche Bank Championship (in 2003) and THE PLAYERS (in 2004) and a few tournaments Tiger was playing in, but he was on a run that it was just hard to kind of imagine beating him down the stretch at a big tournament because no one was. I think there is a tie-in. It's not that I felt I was complacent, but it was like, there's Tiger, and he's going to win, and then you see how good your game is at the end. It's hard to explain to guys now who didn't see him play at that point in like 2000, 2001. It was phenomenal.
BW: As terrific as Rory, Jordan, Jason and Rickie have been, it’s not the same.
AS: Tiger was above double the points in front of second place in the world rankings. He could have not played for a year at one point and still be No. 1. It was crazy. He was crazy good. And everyone is quick to forget about all kind of things.
BW: You've long been lauded for your swing. If you could steal a part of another player’s game, who and what would it be?
AS: I'd probably say Phil Mickelson's wedge play around the green, pitching and chipping. I just think it's clearly a standout to me from everyone else. I've been lucky to play so much golf with Phil on TOUR over the years that I've just seen it all. I just think it's definitely the best over this 15-year period that I've been watching it.
BW: Along similar lines, who would you pay money to see play that's on TOUR now?
AS: I like watching Rory play. He does a lot of stuff beautifully. He hits the golf ball beautifully, and that's very impressive to watch. I also think Bubba. That's the guy you'd pay money to watch. It's unlike anything I've really ever seen. It's really impressive. I've watched him little bits on the range over the years and the stuff he does there, just messing around, warming up is even more scary. His visualization and what he can do with every club is pretty rare to see.
BW: Brett Rumford turned you onto the claw method of putting. How did that come together and how many different approaches did you try?
AS: I didn't try much stuff at all. Rummy and I are good mates. We've been good mates for a long time and we've both putted with the broomstick. We've shared thoughts and feelings about what we do with it and you know, Rummy is very into the bits and bobs of it all and I also have an interest. Then it came about, 'What are you going to do when the rule changes?' Simply Rummy said, “I've been experimenting around with grips and I like this one,” and I kind of put my hands on the club and I said, “Yeah, it feels comfortable, that's good,” and left it at that. Then when I was ready to give putting with a shorter putter a try, I started with that grip because, why not? It made good sense to me, all the stuff Rummy said, and that's what I've stuck with. It works for me. I don't think he's using it actually. I think he's just putting conventional grip, kind of short putter at the moment, but it worked for me.
BW: If you were equipment czar of the game for a day, running the USGA and R&A, what would you change?
AS: I think it's possible that you could make an argument for having different equipment rules for us than the amateurs. I think that's almost logical to do that. I’d re-implement anchored putting because until I'm given facts that it actually is a game-improver, performance-enhancer, then I'm going to have to say I'd put it back in. Maybe driver head size is something I'd look at. That’s a massive difference now. When I was a kid, pulling the driver out of the bag was a concern, like you're going to have to make a great swing to hit a good drive. Now it's the go-to club. It's the most forgiving club we have. That's a huge difference in how you get off the tee to start a hole of golf.
BW: If you had to play one course every day for the rest of your life, what is it?
AS: I guess I'm torn. I could play Kingston Heath every day for the rest of my life in Australia, and the upside of that is in it's Australia and it's an amazing golf course. But I love Cypress Point. It's my favorite course in the world. I just love playing socially on those golf courses that are so much shorter and just less demanding length-wise for me, and then the people I play with can enjoy it. It's very hard to enjoy a round of golf when I play 90 yards from them. It's like we're on different courses. So those two, if I’m allowed to say two.
BW: Your daughter is coming up on her first birthday. How has fatherhood impacted you and what was the experience like of holding her for the first time when she was born?
AS: There weren’t tears for me. There was just joy. It's an incredible experience watching a child being born. I was so happy it went as smooth as it could. I don't know how Marie did it really. I was just so happy they were both so well. I forgot to even check what the sex of the kid was. We didn't know going in and we didn't know for about a minute afterwards, because we were just so happy and (daughter) Bo was on Marie’s chest and we were all hugging and ecstatic. The midwife said, “Do you want to know what it is?” It didn't really matter to me at that point. I look back on that first week at home as one of the best weeks of my life. There's an instant love for something that there wasn't before and an instant priority on everything that she now does forever. I don't think it's had a huge effect in any way that I think about things relating to the professional side of things, but there's another factor involved in our life that's just a positive, which is what you want.
BW: What’s a typical Friday night at home for you on an off-week now versus earlier in your career and life? Do you do the cooking? I think I saw somewhere that you once took a cooking lesson at a Thai restaurant.
AS: I did. If my wife is cooking, I try to help her cook because that's the only way I'd like to cook is helping. I'm not very handy, although I can take direction well. It's one of my strong suits. We eat in a lot, absolutely. I'm spoiled, I eat out all year long, and eating at home is fantastic. That's just kind of our style. We just are pretty relaxed generally. But we also enjoy the times when we're traveling and we'll be in Stockholm at Marie's home and we get to go out to a nice restaurant there that's new or something and enjoy that. We're not stuck at home all the time.
BW: A lot of players are into social media. You don’t do any of it. How come?
AS: It did cross my mind, and I signed up for Instagram and posted something once, I think. But then I just got off it. I was on my phone too much already anyway, so starting to scroll through everyone's pictures was annoying to other people around me. So I just don't really have any desire to do any of that kind of stuff. I'd just rather use my time doing something else, really.
BW: You have the most wins of anybody under the age of 40 on TOUR right now. What’s it look like for you in five, 10 years from now? PGA TOUR Champions? How long will you play and how long can you win?
AS: It's impossible to know. The general thing is I've got to make hay in the next five years, because let's just look at everyone as a whole. There aren't a lot of guys winning tons of majors after 40. Only the great players have done that -- Phil has, Ernie has, Vijay has. Short list, so I'm not going to count on winning all my majors after that.
As far as playing, of course I'm always going to play golf. It's impossible to know in what capacity. I have a kid who is going to go to school somewhere at some point. I'm going to make some big decisions about where that will be. I'm from Australia, my wife is from Sweden, we live elsewhere. I know things are going to happen but for the moment, I know I can kind of have a good plan and theme running for the next five, and I'd like to capitalize on that. But I bet you I'll want to play in the Masters when I'm 50, I'll tell you that. I can guarantee you, if I am all right, I'll be at the Masters when I'm 50.
Inside the PGA TOUR: Adam Scott