Slow turnaround for not-so-great Scott

By Doug FergusonJuly 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' Adam Scott embraces his Australian golf heritage and the comparisons to major champions whom he would like to join someday, the sooner the better. This one, however, made him wince.
 
The topic was Ian Baker-Finch.
 
Im not sure I like where youre headed with this, Scott said.
 
Baker-Finch captured the claret jug at Royal Birkdale in 1991 and was among the top players in golf until one of the most celebrated slumps in golf. He went 31 straight tournaments without making the cut, the last straw his 92 at Royal Troon in the 1997 British Open.
Adam Scott tees off during a practice round Tuesday on the Ailsa Course, Turnberry Golf Course. (Getty Images)
Scott managed a smile, perhaps because he believes the worst is behind ' and it didnt last very long.
 
Its only been three months, Scott said.
 
Maybe so, but it has felt like an entire season.
 
Scott is not the only player who has gone through a rough patch this year. Padraig Harrington, the two-time defending champion at the British Open, had missed five straight cuts until winning the Irish PGA last week, a tournament that amounted to little more than a club championship. Ernie Els has gone nearly 18 months without winning.
 
Both, however, are major champions.
 
Scott will turn 29 on Thursday when the British Open begins at Turnberry. In a career marked by steady progress to as high as No. 3 in the world last summer, it was astonishing to see him vanish from leaderboards from February until June.
 
He lost in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship. He missed six cuts in a row, including The Players Championship, where he hit one tee shot onto the adjacent golf course.
 
The questions piled up faster than the big numbers.
 
  • How bad was his injury from surfing in Australia, the sixth time he had dislocated his knee cap?
     
  • What was he doing surfing?
     
  • Was he more motivated making the cover of fashion magazines or golf magazines?
     
  • Who was he dating now?
     
    Those close to him grew concerned when he only made news for the company he was keeping ' actress Kate Hudson for a week in Hawaii, tennis star Ana Ivanovic for the last few months ' than the shots he was hitting.
     
    After scores of 77-81 at the Memorial, Scott finally snapped.
     
    And so did one of his clubs.
     
    I think it was three months of frustration, Scott said of the 7-iron he broke. Just my luck, I needed it six more times that day. And the Memorial is the only tournament without a repair van, so I played with 13 clubs the next day. But I felt better about it.
     
    Scott has won a tournament every year since his first full season in Europe in 2001. He was the youngest to win The Players Championship. He was the kid who swung just like Tiger Woods, before Woods changed his swing.
     
    Then, he couldnt make a cut.
     
    For nine years, I thought I could win anywhere, and I would just fall into a major one of these years, Scott said. It was hard to comprehend why this was happening. Its never taken me so long to figure this out.
     
    How far had he fallen?
     
    Just over a year ago, Scott was featured with Woods and Phil Mickelson in that 1-2-3 grouping taken off the world ranking. He nearly fell out of the top 50 until he put three good rounds together at the Scottish Open and tied for fourth, moving up to No. 43.
     
    My play was disgusting, Scott said.
     
    He thought he was working on the right drills to get his swing back to where it was. He stood on the range and hit the ball where he was looking. Then he stuck a tee in the ground and put a scorecard in his pocket, and everything changed.
     
    I didnt have a clue, Scott said. Everyone was telling me it looked good, trust it. But I fell apart on the course.
     
    Lee Westwood once climbed as high as No. 4 in the world until his game went south, falling out of the top 100 during two years of misery. He sought help from four swing coaches until finally, thankfully, getting back on his feet.
     
    Baker-Finch went through nearly a dozen coaches, which he said ruined him.
     
    The key is not to panic, Westwood said. Youve just got to go back to the basics. Generally, youll find it was an obvious thing.
     
    Thats just what Scott did.
     
    After his 81 at the Memorial, he retreated to Queenwood Golf Club outside London. He didnt invite Butch Harmon, his longtime coach. He didnt ask help from his caddie, Tony Navarro.
     
    A club employee worked the video and Scott went to the practice range, sessions that lasted up to four hours, six straight days. Before long, he watched the flight of one ball, which was just as he imagined it should go.
     
    Then came his first big test, Bethpage Black for the U.S. Open. He opened with a 69, easily made the cut and even saw his name on the leaderboard early in the final round until a string of late bogeys that only cost him money. He played in the final group on the weekend at Loch Lomond, and the smile grew wider, even as the tabloids quizzed him about Ivanovic.
     
    He is not over the hump. He still doesnt have a major.
     
    Still, he believes he is closer than ever, not because of steady progress but a surprising detour.
     
    Ill be a better player than I ever was before, Scott said. Im sure of that.
     
    Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The 138th Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

    Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."