Adam Scott prepares to defend Masters title

Masters champion Adam Scott. Picture: Getty
Masters champion Adam Scott. Picture: Getty
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IF EVER there was evidence of a golfer growing into the role as a major champion, it was delivered by Adam Scott as Australia’s first Masters winner looked forward to his title defence here this week with class, composure and confidence.

There was a good measure of humour thrown in, too, primarily when he was asked about the main course he’d chosen for last night’s Champions Dinner – Moreton Bay Bugs, a flat-headed lobster named after a body of water on the east coast of Australia near his beloved Brisbane.

“They are one of my favourite foods back home,” revealed Scott of a surf and turf-style menu primarily cooked on a barbecue that was also set to include a pavlova made from his mother’s own recipe. “Hopefully the other guys can get past the name and enjoy a nice bit of our seafood from home,” he added.

It almost came across as an insult to Scott when he was asked if the bugs had, in fact, been flown in from Brisbane. “They are legitimate bugs, the real deal,” he insisted. “I’m not going to serve up anything second rate. I’ve got to go all-out to impress these guys.”

Scott also raised a chuckle in the room when he talked about sharing a locker with Gary Player and in recalling his own debut in the event as he looked forward to playing with Matthew Fitzpatrick, the US Amateur champion from England, in the opening two rounds.

“Sharing a locker with Gary is nice for me, but he gets a lot of mail so there’s not a lot of room for myself in there,” he reported. “My stuff’s kind of scattered around a bit on the floor. I haven’t seen him here this week, so I don’t know how he feels about that yet.”

He’s looking forward to playing Fitzpatrick, who underlined his potential when winning the Silver Medal as leading amateur in last year’s Open Championship at Muirfield, but can’t promise the 19-year-old from Sheffield he’ll be able to help him relax the way Fuzzy Zoeller did when Scott made his own debut in 2002. “Fuzzy was whistling off the first tee,” he recalled. “I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but it was certainly a little more light-hearted than I thought. “Unfortunately for Matthew, I’m not going to be whistling off the first tee, so he’ll have to find another way to calm down.”

Scott himself is feeling totally calm as he bids to become only the fourth player in the event’s history to record back-to-back wins. Jack Nicklaus (1965-66) was the first man to achieve the feat and it’s only been matched since by two of the game’s other legendary figures – Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02). “I’d like to add my name to that list this week,” admitted Scott.

Achieving the feat would also see him become world No 1. Scott, in fact, will topple Woods from that position if he finishes third (with no more than one other player). “I’ve had a couple goes at that the last couple times I’ve played and it hasn’t worked out,” he reflected. “I don’t tee up thinking I’m going to try to be world No 1. It just works out. You’ve just got to keep playing well. For the guys who have been world No 1, it’s been a process to get there and I’m getting close. But it will take four great rounds this week.”

Two of his early practice rounds were in the company of his dad, Phil. “Being able to do that is one of those great things that winning this tournament has afforded me,” said Scott. “My dad had said that playing the course would be the highlight of his golfing life and I think it lived up to his expectations.”

While proud to have become the first Australian to claim a Green Jacket, Scott doesn’t want to be remembered as a one-hit wonder in the majors. He followed up last year’s victory by making his presence felt in the Open Championship and US PGA Championship – finishing in the top five in both – and is ready to hit the ground running in the first of the 2014 majors.

“I think everyone gets a window and you might get more than one,” he said. “My window of opportunity, I really think, is right now and I don’t know when it will close. So I just have to keep going as hard as I can right now, and if it lasts until I’m in my 40s (he’s 33), then that’s great. I think I’ll have a lot of chances to win golf tournaments.

“But it’s only the greats like Phil [Mickelson] and Ernie {Els] who have managed to win majors that way in this generation. Hopefully I’m doing the right things and that keeps the window open for another year and then I’ll try to keep it open another year.”