ADAM Scott has revealed how he needed the penny to drop before realising that talent alone wasn’t enough to turn him into a major winner.
Two years after recording a runaway ten-shot victory in the 2002 Gleneagles Scottish PGA Championship, the Australian won the Players’ Championship at Sawgrass at the age of just 23 and looked set to go on and conquer the world.
It seemed inevitable that a first major would soon follow but, instead, Scott had to wait nine years before taking that significant step in a golfer’s career.
Now, as he prepares to return to Augusta National next week as the defending Masters champion, the 33-year-old has lifted the lid on what had been holding him back during that time.
“It’s interesting because I felt that [winning the Players’ Championship] was a huge opportunity for me to take the next step. But I just don’t think I knew what it took to do that and the level of commitment and the work ethic required,” he said.
“I think back then that I just relied too much on talent and kind of threw the balls up in the air in the hope that I was going to have a good week at The Masters, the US Open, The Open the PGA. It was kind of luck of the draw whether that showed up – and it never did.
“That was part of my learning curve and the difference now is that I understand that. I can control that a little bit more and make it show up for those weeks, or at least play consistently in them. The talent was there, but the right preparation and structure may not have been for me at that time to take that next step beyond the Players and go and be a consistent performer in the majors at a young age.”
Asked when he’d realised that things had to change in order to reach that next level, the world No 2 said: “I think after the frustration I felt at the end of 2010, having not really achieving what I wanted in the big events.
“It was a case of sitting down and rethinking everything about how I went about golf and life. I made a lot of changes, not all at once, but changed the way I prepared and scheduled and started doing things to suit me.
“What I felt was right and less about what other people think is right, and you know, it’s kind of accumulated into me performing better. I’ve got a pretty good recipe at the moment.”
Scott, who beat Argentina’s Angel Cabrera at the second extra hole in a play-off after a dramatic finish 12 months ago, has enjoyed every second of his reign as Masters champion after becoming the first Australian to win at Augusta.
“Having the Green Jacket just by the bed or in the closet – and by the time I get back next week I’ll probably have tried it on in front of the mirror 365 times (laughing) – is something you’ll never forget,” he admitted.
“Seeing how people react to getting a glimpse of the Green Jacket in the house has been a lot of fun for me, but I think the most enjoyable thing in the past year is probably being able to share the experience of winning with my dad (Phil).
“His whole life has been golf and it was incredible he was there. It’s also been nice to sit at home with him since then and talk about it at length. My mum (Pam) and dad gave up so much for me to pursue golf, so it’s been nice to kind of repay them in some way.”
While disappointed himself not to win the recent Bay Hill Invitational after leading by seven shots at the halfway stage, Scott has watched three of his compatriots – Jason Day, John Senden and Steven Bowditch – all land notable victories in recent weeks. Day, who has finished second and third in just three Masters appearances, claimed the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona while Senden and Bowditch secured their berths in the season’s opening major by winning the Valspar Championship and Valero Texas Open respectively.
Asked if his historic success at Augusta could open the floodgates there for Australian golfers, Scott said: “Yeah, potentially, for sure, and hopefully every Aussie that’s there next week will appreciate not being asked whether one of them [can break the hoodoo] this year. Jason has obviously got to be thinking he’s going to be a Masters champion one day, having done extremely well in the few he’s played so far. And that’s probably quite likely if he keeps playing the way he is and on the path he is.
“So hopefully the shackles are off and we’re going to have a host of Aussies up there in the Champions’ locker-room and serving dinners in the future.”
Scott’s own menu for that dinner next week is still under wraps. “I’d like to serve something that everyone will really enjoy, and nothing too crazy so that they won’t,” he said. “But, probably no surprise to anyone, there’s definitely going to be an Australian theme toward every part of the dinner. Whether that means they are eating kangaroo, you’ll just have to wait and see.”