Scott close to finally fulfilling the promise of his youth

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Adam Scott has largely resurrected a career that seemed on its downturn a couple of years ago.
April 12, 2011
Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Nothing but positives.


Gut-check putts.

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One of the best swings of the tournament at the 16th hole.

Played great, which was all anyone can ask.

Those were the first points Tony Navarro brought up Sunday afternoon. Disappointed? Absolutely. But he was, as always, looking to the future.

He's known Adam Scott since Scotty was 16. A kid. A soft-spoken, thoughtful, talented player who has always done things his way. Who idolized Greg Norman. Who, until last Sunday afternoon, could say his best moment at Augusta National was having lunch during a practice round with Norman on Tuesday afternoon of 2002 tournament week.

Might still be that moment, too.

Navarro was on Norman's bag for so many of those heartbreaks -- and not just at Augusta. This one for Scotty?

"No heartbreak,'' he said. "All joy.''

Honest. Yes, there was a disappointment. You knew that. You felt it. You saw it.

Scott coming down the stretch with that long putter of his looking every bit the part of the major-in-waiting we knew he was. The 7-iron to stuff-it distance at 16. Clutch pars at 15 and 17. A birdie attempt that could have been better at 18.

That's in the past now. He'll rewind it in his mind. He'll learn from it. He'll sort it.


He'll realize that runner-up finish pushed him to 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking. He'll put in perspective.

For the moment though, he's thinking Texas ... where he's won three times since 2007 and where he'll step to the first tee Thursday morning as the Valero Texas Open. Ironically, on a Norman-designed course.

Scott, who also won the 2007 Shell Houston Open and the 2008 HP Byron Nelson Championship , is nothing, if not resilient. He's on his -- what? -- third comeback of a young career. He broke onto the scene with a tie for ninth at that 2002 Masters, then cut his teeth on the European circuit. He didn't want to make the leap the PGA TOUR back then. He knew himself and what he needed to do.

In 2004, he won THE PLAYERS Championship. In 2006, the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. By the time the 2008 U.S. Open rolled around at Torrey Pines he was ranked third in the world -- he, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the first two rounds with a 1-2-3 pairing -- struggling with a hand injury and going through a tough breakup with a longtime girlfriend.

"We had built a life together,'' Scott told Golf Digest. "What happened? Our lives in some ways were just moving apart, possibly because of my travel. She studies architecture, and is very talented and driven. I didn't want to hold her back. It happens, but it still hurts.''

People questioned Norman when chose Scott as a Captain's Pick for the 2009 Presidents Cup, but Norman knew was he was doing. He knew all Scott needed was someone to believe in him again. Seven months later, Scott won again.

But until Sunday, he had just four top-10s in majors, the best a T-3 at the 2006 PGA Championship. He hadn't contended the way we thought. Now, he has. And don't expect him to stop.

A renaissance kind of guy, Scott can morph from a rugged thirtysomething look to a fresh-faced curly haired kid in the blink of eye. He has the long thin fingers of an artist, the looks of a movie star or model. And there's an air of elegance to him -- and to his swing.

He believes in himself and pushes hard, but there has never been an outward urgency about him. He has been as thoughtful toward his career as he is when he answers questions. Hiring Navarro, one of the all-time best, for his bag when Norman retired? Brilliant.

And, yes, he's felt the harsh criticism of what people expect him to do. He watched Norman go through it too and knows it goes with the territory.

"When people think you've got potential, they can be fairly harsh,'' he said earlier this year. '"When you're busting your ass and not getting anything out of it, you do get tired of hearing it. But look, I set lofty goals. I want to win majors. And if I'm not delivering and I get criticized for that, well, that's fair. But time isn't running out.''

In so many ways, it's just starting. He turns 31 in July, but he's been on our minds since he was 20 and on our radar -- thanks to Norman -- since he was a teenager.

"Greg's been a great believer in Adam's ability,'' Navarro said Sunday night. "I just wish things turned out better for Adam.''

Power Rankings: Valero
For Adam Scott, this week's test at the Valero Texas Open will offer a soft landing of sorts following the intensity in Augusta. Scott recorded a one-stroke victory in the track's debut a year ago. Where does he rank in Rob Bolton's top 10 for this week's event? Power Rankings

You get the feeling they will. This new belly putter looks funny and may feel a bit old-timer for such a young player, but it's working.

And it's hard to find a more popular player out there.

"Adam treats everybody the same every day,'' Navarro said. "That's why every player out here admires him. He was the same at 16, as well.''

That's why the locker room knows Navarro is right. Positives out of a close call. Pride from a what-if. Lesson learned from a 72nd hole birdie that, as it turns out, wouldn't have been quite enough.

Norman texted Navarro Sunday: "You, of call people, deserve to be carrying a green-jacket bag.''

He thought he was. When they came off the course, he told Scott, "You played great. I'm proud of you. It's not over yet. Go get the card right and let's see what happens.''

Two more birdies. A Green Jacket would have to wait.

Like Navarro said Scott threw it all out here Sunday and, lord, was it a great day to be in the mix.

"Quite a day for atmosphere,'' Navarro said. "From where we were, it was great . . . Great theater.''

Great learning experience. Great moments. Things to build on.

No heartbreak. Just joy.

Melanie Hauser is a columnist for PGATOUR.COM and can be reached at Her views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. Follow her on Twitter @melaniehauser.