Confidence returns for Adam Scott after Aussie win


COOLUM, Australia – Golf got so bad for Adam Scott this year that he wondered if he’d ever get things back on track.

In January there was promise, beginning the year tied for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii. But then Scott’s golfing world caved in – he played 19 events on the PGA Tour, making the cut only nine times. His world ranking slid from No. 3 to just outside the top 70, and with it went his confidence.

“I know I have been humbled by the game this year,” Scott said Wednesday, three days after winning the Australian Open – his first title on home soil as a professional. “We’ve seen it so many times with different players. You think you’re on top of things and then all of a sudden you feel like you are rock bottom, or heading that way anyway.

“The mental side of the game has taken a toll on me this year,” he said, but “2010 … is looking a lot brighter than it was two months ago. That’s how fickle this game is. It turns around that quickly.”

Greg Norman, who Scott has referred to as his mentor in the past, made him a captain’s pick at the Presidents Cup in October. He only managed to pick up one point in the International team’s loss to the United States, but Norman said Scott played well.

From there, it’s been a return to form for the 29-year-old from Queensland, where he’ll tee off Thursday in the first round of the Australian PGA.

“At some point, you have to right the ship, or you keep going backwards,” Scott said. “I guess it wasn’t at the rock-bottom point, but at the point that I started to see some improvement in my game. When you see some improvement, the hunger can kick in, and that makes the workload easier. Seeing the results helps.”

After the Presidents Cup, he tied for third in the Singapore Open, then tied for sixth in the Australian Masters won by Tiger Woods. He finished tied for seventh in the Dubai World Championships and then claimed his five-shot victory over Stuart Appleby in the Australian Open last week at New South Wales Golf Club.

The Australian Open win lifted his ranking 20 places to No. 34, moving him comfortably inside the top 50 that brings an invitation to next year’s U.S. Masters.

“That was a bonus to firm up the schedule for next year, and an invite to the Masters is a great way to start next year,” Scott said. “I know what I am working towards in April.”

First, he’s concentrating on the Australian PGA, which will be played on a revamped Hyatt Regency course with six new opening holes.

Scott will be among the first groups off Thursday, playing the first two rounds with defending champion Geoff Ogilvy and rising Australian star Michael Sim, the U.S. Nationwide Tour player of the year.

That group is preceded by American John Daly, who’s playing the first two days with Australians James Nitties and Greg Chalmers.

“I generally can play good for stretches in the past, but I am playing very well,” Scott said. “My ball striking has been solid for a couple of months. If that continues around here, I should work my way into contention.”

Scott will be taking some extended time off after the PGA, and he’s looking forward to the break.

“I am just going to rest at home, not charge around and train too hard,” he said. “Probably kick back and watch some cricket.”

And tennis? His girlfriend, Serbian star Ana Ivanovic, is training in Queensland ahead of the early January tournaments that lead into the Australian Open.

“Yes, and watch some tennis, too,” he said, smiling.