Adam Scott is back at the Open Championship, back at the event that left him desolate a year ago. The Australian golfer turned 33 yesterday but celebration was the last thing on his mind as he left Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s after the 2012 Open, when an agonising string of four closing bogeys slid him back to one shot behind winner Ernie Els.
But for Scott, the pain was transformed into elation in the most dramatic of circumstances, as he became the first Australian golfer to win the Masters, defeating Argentine Angel Cabrera in a sudden-death play-off at Augusta in April.
As the memories of Royal Lytham come flooding back to Scott this week, that treasured green jacket must feel bullet-proof. The Adelaide-born golfer has brought the jacket to East Lothian with him too.
“I still don’t go more than two or three days without wearing it,” admits Scott, talking to The Scotsman after a nine-hole practice round at Muirfield. “It comes with me most places. I have wanted that jacket my whole life, so who not wear it every day? I will definitely have the jacket out this week because my mum is coming up to the Open and she has not seen it yet.
“If it had turned out I never won a major, perhaps I would have eventually had a relapse and never get over the 2012 Open, but I believed I was going to win and lose more majors; that is just what happens when you are in contention. All the greatest golfers have lost majors, but they were in contention enough so that they won them too. This is just the start for me in the majors; there have been two majors so far that I have been really close to winning, and now I have won one. I am going to keep putting myself in those positions, and hopefully the ratio will balance out a bit more.
Scott has so far prepared for the 2013 Open in much the same way as he did last year, by turning up at the course more than a week before the tournament itself, and to get his bearings in the company of his coach and brother-in-law, Brad Malone.
“A big part of my belief on preparing for majors is to build a good level of comfort with the golf course and the only way to do that is to play it,” says Scott, who missed the cut by a stroke on his only previous visit to Muirfield, in the 2002 Open. “You need to feel like the course is your home club. I got here on Tuesday night and the weather has just been incredible. We have had ideal golfing conditions and I think we are in for a great week. I have learnt the golf course and feel I have a really good understanding of it. Now it is just a matter of executing the shots. That’s the hard part, but now I know the ball is going to run for about 30 yards. The fourth hole is a good example. It is playing 220 yards to the middle of the green, but I am playing an eight iron 15 yards short, and then it is rolling 35 yards into the middle of the green. It is hard to get your head around that if you have played just a couple practice rounds, but I have played Muirfield seven times over the past week now.”
Scott’s final preparations might include picking the brains of his friend Els too, who is not only the defending Open champion but also the winner the last time the Open was played out over the Muirfield links, in 2002. The two golfers played a practice round together at Muirfield in the build-up to the 2002 Open.
“When I played with Ernie in 2002, he flat-out told me he was playing horrible,” recalls Scott. “Ernie said he didn’t know what he was doing, he didn’t know where his game was, and that he was at his wit’s end, and he played horribly in our practice round together too. I remember thinking that he had no chance. Sure enough, he ended up winning the tournament.
“I think I might pick Ernie’s brain because, well, I think he owes me one.”
• Robin Barwick travelled to Muirfield with Mercedes-Benz, Official Patron of the Open Championship and a partner of three Major championships