Aussie Scott Needing to Go to Next Level

By Associated PressApril 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
One of the most vexing labels in golf is best to have never won a major, which is now affixed to Sergio Garcia with little debate. But there is another description that is even more burdensome, and it belongs to Adam Scott.
Best to never even contend in a major.
Thats the last thing he needs to do to get to the next level, swing coach Butch Harmon said Monday night. You forget that hes won a lot of tournaments. But hes got to step up to the plate in the majors, and stop putting so much pressure on himself.
It is no disgrace that the 27-year-old Scott has not won a major. Those are hard to come by in the era of Tiger Woods, and it has become even more difficult in recent years now that Phil Mickelson has figured them out.
Only five players in theirs 20s, including Woods, have won majors this decade.
Perhaps even more startling is that in the last five years, only 13 players in their 20s have finished in the top five at majors. Garcia is the leader in the clubhouse with six top fives since 2003, which includes a playoff loss at Carnoustie last summer, and playing in the final group with Woods at Royal Liverpool the year before.
Thats why the best to have never won a major tag fits Garcia better than anyone else. Along with his six PGA TOUR victories and 10 victories around the world, he has eight top fives in the majors since he turned pro in 1999.
Scott turned pro a year later, and his record stacks up favorably to Garcia except in one major department.
The Australians only top five in a Grand Slam event came two years ago at Medinah, where he tied for third in the PGA Championship, albeit six shots behind Woods. His closest call came at Whistling Straits in the 2004 PGA Championship, when he tied for eighth, three shots out of a playoff won by Vijay Singh
That he has not seriously contended is a mystery, and it only deepened with his victory Sunday in Dallas.
Scott didnt earn any style points at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, but he showed plenty of heart. He took a three-shot lead into the final round, let it slip away with a tee shot into the water, rallied with a do-or-die birdie putt on the 18th, then atoned for two 10-foot misses by holing a 50-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole.
I needed to walk out of here with a trophy, Scott said. I needed to go and close this thing out, and it was tough, but I managed to do it. I feel pretty good about myself. It would have been a tough defeat. Even in tough conditions, to let go of a three-shot lead doesnt sit too well with many people, and that goes for me, as well.
Forget the majors for a moment and consider Scotts consistency.
His victory at the Byron Nelson put him in some elite company'with an asterisk'by winning at least one PGA TOUR event each of the last six seasons. Only Woods, with victories in 13 straight seasons, has a longer active streak on tour. Scotts streak includes 2005 at Riviera, where he won in a playoff over Chad Campbell after rain limited the tournament to 36 holes, making it unofficial.
And while Scott hasnt won a major, he has won big events against strong fields.
The Aussie won the next best thing to a major in 2004 at THE PLAYERS Championship, becoming the youngest champion at age 23. He ended the 2006 season with a victory in the Tour Championship by three shots over Jim Furyk. His first PGA TOUR victory came at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston.
But it all comes back to the majors, one glaring gap for a guy who seems to have everything.
His swing is so sound, so efficient, that he often was compared with Woods until the worlds No. 1 player revamped his swing. He is blessed with movie star looks, and no scene was more startling than at Oak Hill at the 2003 PGA Championship when women were handing their hotel room keys to security guards to give to Scott.
His manners are simply impeccable. He treats everyone with equal consideration.
Maybe hes too nice, more lamb than tiger. His demeanor is in stark contrast to that of Garcia, whose temperament can hurt him as much as it helps. You wont see Scott spit into a cup, nor will you hear him complain about his endless run of bad luck.
But there was something that caught Harmons attention late Sunday afternoon. With a chance to take a one-shot lead as he stood over an 8-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole, Scott left it short. He stood alone on the back of the green, lips pursed, anger visible.
He was chewing himself out, Harmon said.
Ryan Moore made a 12-foot birdie ahead of him on the 17th hole to take a one-shot lead. Scott responded with a two-putt par from some 80 feet across the 17th, then two perfect shots and a clutch birdie to force the playoff.
To lose would have stirred memories of Memphis last year, when he blew a three-shot lead in the final round with a 75. Or at the Accenture Match Play Championship, where he missed three putts inside 10 feet on the final four holes to lose to Woody Austin.
This is a big step for him, Harmon said. Its big for his confidence.
It was his second victory this year, having won the Qatar Masters with a 61 in the final round, and it sends Scott to the Wachovia Championship and The Players Championship the next two weeks on a high.
He can only hope its not another tease.
The real test comes six weeks from now at Torrey Pines for the U.S. Open.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.