ADAM Scott, the Masters champion, has insisted Tiger Woods is still a “factor” in majors but believes the world No 1’s “dry spell” in the events could easily continue this year.
Starting the countdown to the defence of his Green Jacket at Augusta National in seven week’s time, Scott also admitted his win last April probably meant more to the sports-daft Australian public than if he’d landed the Claret Jug as a first major prize instead.
Woods has not won a major since claiming his 14th in the 2008 US Open and has made his worst start to a season as a professional, failing to make the 54-hole cut at the Farmers Insurance Open then tying for 41st behind Stephen Gallacher in the Dubai Desert Classic.
Responding to being asked if the world No 1 was now less of a factor in golf’s four biggest events, Scott insisted Woods is still capable of re-igniting his bid to topple Jack Nicklaus as the game’s greatest player but reckons the trend of major titles being shared around a lot more could easily continue over the next few years.
“I don’t think he’s become less of a factor,” said Scott, speaking from his home in the Bahamas, where he is gearing up to return from a six-week break in next week’s Honda Classic after deciding to skip the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship starting today in Arizona along with Woods and Phil Mickelson.
“I think he’s still obviously a favourite in everyone’s mind, including the players, and that he’s going to be around the mix. I just feel like the way it’s been shared around a little bit lately, you’ve seen my generation of player and the Justin Roses who have got to that level where they have put ten or 12 years experience in the bank; they have raised the level of their own game over the last couple years and believe it’s their time to do it, and they are not worried about Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or a young guy like Rory McIlroy. They are just into their own thing.
“So I don’t necessarily think it’s that Tiger is not being a factor. He certainly is a factor. He’s the No 1 player in the world, and he’s always there or thereabouts. He’s on a dry spell at the moment and that’s what happens in a career. Jack Nicklaus had a run like that and he’s still the greatest player of all time. It wouldn’t surprise me that Tiger comes and wins again this year, but I think there’s my generation of player is feeling like their time is now, so they have got to take advantage of it.”
Scott, who beat Angel Cabrera in a play-off to become the first Australian to win the Masters, should have made his major breakthrough the previous year only to suffer a back-nine collapse in the Open Championship. He admitted, however, that returning home with a Green Jacket rather than a Claret Jug probably made him a bigger hero in the eyes of the Australian sporting public.
“The whole stigma of an Australian not winning the Masters stood out, not just with the golfing community in Australia as it was well publicised to the rest of the community, as well,” added Scott, who joked that he will have looked at himself in the mirror wearing the Green Jacket for “365 days” by the time he tees off his defence on 10 April.
“We are a pretty proud sporting nation and we feel like we have achieved a lot in all the sports we participate in. Cadel Evans the year before won the Tour de France and basically we felt like that left the Masters was the notch in the belt that Australian sports didn’t have. I think the hype and excitement about the Green Jacket finally coming down to Australia for the first time certainly was a big deal, and it made a difference in the response to returning with that.”