Aussies' toughest competition at Congressional? Themselves

June 26, 2013
Brian Wacker,

BETHESDA, Md. -- The only thing missing for Adam Scott this week might be chants of “Come on Aussie, Come on!” But give it a few days.

The last time Scott was paired with fellow Australian Marc Leishman, he walked away with a Green Jacket.

This time, he’d be happy if it was the AT&T National trophy.

The gravity of becoming the first Australian to win the Masters was a bit overwhelming for Scott, and it has affected him in his starts since.

This week’s event at Congressional, however, serves as something of a turning point for the 32-year-old.

“I've tried to not (to reflect on the Masters) and get on with the rest of the year and make it as good as it can be after such a great start, but it's been tough,” Scott said. “I really felt like last week the focus went back on when I was on the range at home, and it was really productive again, and it felt like it did before winning the Masters.”

“I was playing OK, but it just wasn't quite the same as beforehand. Now there's a purpose again for sure.”

Scott’s group will also have a distinctly Down Under and familiar feel to it with another Aussie, Jason Day, as the third member. (To see other featured groups for the first two rounds, click here).

Day has known Scott since he was 15 years old, and he competed against Leishman in amateur golf in Australia.

“I know that we'll enjoy ourselves,” Day said. “I enjoy playing with my fellow countrymen and enjoy playing with buddies.”

Australia has also enjoyed some major success this season.

Day finished third to Scott at Augusta National and was second at the U.S. Open. He also has three other top-10s on the PGA TOUR this season.

Likewise, Leishman had his best finish in a major, tying for fourth at the Masters. He has three other top-10s this year.

Not surprisingly, Scott and Day have also fared well here.

Last year, Scott finished third in the AT&T National. When Congressional hosted the U.S. Open in 2011, he finished third then, too.

Day, meanwhile, tied for eighth a year ago and finished second at the U.S. Open two years ago.

“It's definitely a tournament I look forward to, and this golf club, I think, fits my game well,” Scott said. “I'm looking to build a bit of momentum to go into The Open and build the confidence back to where I want it heading towards the major championship.”

Day also likes the difficulty of what Congressional presents: A big golf course with thick rough.

Big boy golf.

“Just takes out the riff-raff, I guess,” Day joked. “It's a good, tough golf course. You have to drive it well, and you have to chip and putt well because if you're not hitting the fairways, you're going to miss greens, and you have to make sure your short game is on.”

All three Aussies have been on this season.

Day is 13th in scoring, 12th in driving distance, 10th in the all-around ranking and ninth in the FedExCup standings.

Scott has performed similarly, ranking fourth in scoring, 16th in driving distance, third in the all-around and ranks 12th in FedExCup points.

Leishman’s stats don’t stack up to Day’s or Scott’s, but earlier this year he had a run of three straight top 10s, including a ninth at the RBC Heritage and an eighth at THE PLAYERS.

And while a good performance here would help set Scott back in the right direction after winning his first major, one might propel Day to his first after four top-3 finishes in his last nine majors.

“If I can get past it, this hurdle, and turn the corner and win, I feel like I can win multiple times a year,” said Day, whose lone victory on TOUR came three years ago.

A year ago, Scott lost the British Open in heartbreaking fashion, bogeying each of his last four holes.

But after his victory this past April, winning more often is something that Scott can again see as prt of his future.

“Every tournament, I feel, is an opportunity for me now, even more so after winning the Masters, to just build on this,” he said. “I'd like to put myself in good shape this week to then try to get to The Open and redeem myself maybe after last year.”