Scott is one of four players who can overtake Tiger Woods at the top of the rankings at Sawgrass, with the defending champion absent after undergoing back surgery just before the US Masters. But the complicated way the points average is worked out over a two-year period means that, unlike Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, Scott would have become world No 1 for the first time by not playing an event often labelled golf’s “fifth major”.
“See you later guys!” the world No 2 joked when told of the quirk at his pre-tournament press conference.
“I didn’t know that so I haven’t been thinking about number one that much obviously. I am here to win golf tournaments and, from that, you can get to number one in the world if you win enough, often enough.
“I’ve had a couple of good chances this year already and haven’t been able to pull it off [he blew a seven-shot halfway lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational] not because it’s been weighing on my mind but I just wasn’t sharp enough playing the last couple of rounds at a few events.
“I think the work I have done since the Masters has been good and hopefully it’s going to hold up this week. I would love to win this tournament and ascend to number one that way, not just look for a position to do so.”
Assuming he does indeed play today, Scott may only need to finish inside the top 16 to become the second Australian after Greg Norman to become world No 1.
But Stenson needs to finish inside the top six, two-times Masters champion Watson needs solo second place or better and Kuchar simply has to win.
“It’s just the way it is,” Scott added. “It’s a very hard system to perfect with tours all around the world, people playing everywhere and awarding fair points for everything.
“I think they’ve come up with the best they possibly can and I think have been fairly accurate over the years.
“Of course there is always the odd one that doesn’t quite make sense and if I sit at home this week and watch everyone and end up number one it’s a bit odd, but it’s a complicated system and I think the rankings are pretty fair overall.
“Playing the Players Championship means more to me than sitting at home just to get to a top world ranking.”
Since the tournament moved to Sawgrass in 1982 just Hal Sutton, Steve Elkington and Woods have won twice. Only Sutton (1983) and Craig Perks (2002) have won on their first appearance since Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural event in 1974.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher is one of the debutants this week and told PGATour.com: “Playing in the Masters [for the first time] and now the Players is one of these things I’ve looked forward to for pretty much all my professional career, 18 years.
“To be here now and play in it has been a long time coming but I am looking forward to it. You only need to look at the people who have won it to tell you the stature of the tournament.
“It’s iconic, the course with the 16th, 17th and 18th. I am just looking forward to getting out there and playing.”