Scott teeing it up for first time since Masters win

By Randall MellMay 8, 2013, 5:33 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Adam Scott feels like he’s floating even when he isn’t wearing his green jacket around the house these days.

It’s a wonderful image Scott chose Wednesday to describe what it has been like in the month since he broke through to win his first major championship at the Masters. Given the weight of expectations he was saddled with as a prodigy, and the weight of failure in his collapse at the British Open last summer, Scott’s sense that he is floating delightfully captures what his life is like now.

Scott returns to play this week at The Players Championship knowing the challenge this sense of floating presents.

“Hopefully, I can take my head out of the clouds and come back down to earth and play some good golf,” Scott said before heading out to practice Wednesday morning.

Scott usually takes off four or five days after a major to decompress without touching his clubs. He said he took a week more than that after winning the Masters.

“It's been an overwhelming time for me,” Scott said. “Just so many people reached out to me, I was blown away. That comes from everywhere, especially Australia, but over here as well, other players, media, everyone. It was incredible.”

Scott was asked if he wakes up in the morning realizing he really is the Masters champ and it wasn’t all a dream.

“When I walk in the closet, and I put the green jacket on every morning, I do,” Scott said.

He wasn’t kidding. He likes wearing that green jacket.

“I've enjoyed that,” Scott said. “I've missed it the last couple days. It's the first couple days I haven't had it with me, so that's been a lot of fun, just wearing it around the house.”

Or floating around the house.

At 32, Scott could float the rest of his career if he wanted. Really, if he never wins another major, he won’t be remembered as a one-shot wonder. He’ll always be the first Australian to win the Masters. The feat will loom over the rest of his career. He is Aussie golf’s Neil Armstrong. He’ll be walking where no Aussie golfer ever walked before when he checks into the Augusta National Champions Locker room next year.

Here’s the thing, though, Scott wants so much more.

“It’s probably going to be the pinnacle of my career, because, also, of the whole of Australia, as the first Australian to win the Masters, but it's also not the end for me,” Scott said. “Hopefully, it's the start of me achieving my goals and trying to become the player that I've always dreamed of being.”

That’s why Scott did not come back earlier to play a PGA Tour event after winning the Masters. He wanted to feel like he was really ready to play. It’s also why he hasn’t yet returned to Australia since winning. He wants to build on this Masters title before celebrating back home.

“It’s cause for celebration, but we have a plan in place, and like I said, it's hopefully not going to stop with the Masters at the moment,” Scott said. “I want to keep focused while I can and try to make this my biggest year yet, and I think we can rustle up some celebration when I get home at the end of the year.”

Greg Norman, the most famous Aussie golfer, believes Scott is destined to surpass what he or any other Australian has achieved in the game.

“I think he will go on and win more majors than any other Australian golfer,” Norman said.

That’s a daunting task. Aussie Peter Thomson won five of them.

“Greg's had a huge belief in me,” Scott said. “Again, saying things like that, he strongly believes in my ability and he's always pushed me to achieve.”

Scott’s victory resonated beyond Australia.

“It was a great win for golf,” said Davis Love III.

Love knows how Scott’s popularity goes beyond Australia and even the game. The fact that the TV show “The Bachelor” wanted Scott after his Masters victory did not surprise Love. By the way, Scott turned down the show’s approach, saying he is in a committed relationship. He’s dating Marie Kozjar, a Swedish architect.

Love learned the strength of Scott’s mainstream appeal when he was hitting balls on a range at an event not so long ago. Love caught a glimpse of his daughter and two other girls on a golf cart racing toward him. He assumed they were coming out to watch him hit balls.

“My daughter doesn’t play golf,” Love said. “Guess who was hitting balls right beside me? Adam Scott.”

Scott is sure to have a growing following with his return to play this week. He is enjoying his new status, but he wants to keep building on his game this year. Whether, as Norman predicts, he can surpass Thomson’s five majors isn’t so much on his mind, but he does want more majors.

“I should set my goals high, like I always have,” Scott said. “If I can find the balance of using this as a motivator, and take the confidence out of what I was able to do at Augusta, then hopefully the floodgates can open. It happened a little bit for Phil Mickelson. Well, a lot for him, when he finally won his first major. He won four. So, if I keep focused, I think I believe I've got more in me. How many, I don't know. But I think if I keep doing the same things, I'll give myself a chance to win them.”

A chance to float even higher.

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J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda fired eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record at the tournament.


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Korda, who is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda, leads fellow American Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under.

Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

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Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


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Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

Later, he laughed about the moment.

''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

“Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


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Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

“As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.

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McIlroy, Scott have forgettable finish at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 22, 2018, 11:03 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy and the rest of his group had a forgettable end to their rounds Thursday at the Honda Classic.

McIlroy was even par for the day and looking for one final birdie to end his opening round. Only two players had reached the par-5 finishing hole, but McIlroy tried to hold a 3-wood up against the wind from 268 yards away. It found the water, leading to a double bogey and a round of 2-over 72.  

“It was the right shot,” McIlroy said. “I just didn’t execute it the right way.”

He wasn’t the only player to struggle coming home.


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Adam Scott, who won here in 2016, found the water on both par 3s in the Bear Trap, Nos. 15 and 17. He made double on 15, then triple on 17, after his shot from the drop area went long, then he failed to get up and down. He shot 73, spoiling a solid round.

The third player in the group, Padraig Harrington, made a mess of the 16th hole, taking a triple.

The group played the last four holes in a combined 10 over.