ARDMORE, Pa. – Memo to Adam Scott: This is not how you enter a major championship on the heels of winning your first one. You’re doing it all wrong.
You’re supposed to be trailed by an entourage of sycophants, following you through secret back gates to Merion Golf Club, hoisting the green jacket upon your shoulders like the robe on a heavyweight fighter entering the ring.
You’re supposed to be visible – a frequenter of the talk-show circuit, recognizable to every grandmother with a 14-inch black-and-white television in her kitchen, let alone every social mediaphile who keeps tabs on you 24/7 thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and every other account started by your PR team.
You’re supposed to have a little swagger. When a fan asks for an autograph, tell him about the $10,000-per-head charity dinner you’re hosting – maybe you’ll sign there. When a fellow competitor congratulates you on the Masters win, reply with either, “What took you so long?” or “Yeah, I was pretty awesome.”
But you, Adam Scott, you just don’t get it.
When you arrive at your U.S. Open pre-tournament interview session with the media – at 9 a.m. Monday morning, like a teacher’s pet who comes in to clean the chalkboard before class – you unassumingly stride into the room and chat with a few USGA officials as if they’re of the same species as you. You, the major champion. Imagine that.
Adam, dude, there are 3.4 billion men in this world and 3,399,999,999 of them don’t have a chance of winning golf’s Grand Slam this year. You’re the only one.
You should need a calculator to quantify your Q-rating. You should be on TV more than “Law & Order” reruns. You should have Justin Bieber giving you the leather shirt off his back.
Instead, you followed that historic playoff win at Augusta National by granting exactly two – count ’em, two – live television interviews. One in your native Australia, one in the United States. And then you retreated to your luxury mansion on the beach, practiced some golf and maintained your relative privacy.
“I kind of had a plan in place. I like to have a plan for most things so I don't get blindsided by stuff,” you explain. “I really enjoy playing in front of everyone. But I felt that's all I needed to do. I try and entertain people on the golf course, not on talk shows.”
You know, the bookers for Letterman and Conan aren’t going to like that attitude.
That is, if they can find you. Keeping tabs on you since the Masters has been tougher than keeping tabs on Batman. You’ve played in exactly two golf tournaments since then. That’s two fewer than Guan Tianlang – and he’s supposed to be in summer camp or something.
“I feel like I'm trying to do this thing that I've talked about a lot the last few years, of peaking at the right time. And it's hard to sit at home some weeks when I feel like I'm playing really good, it could be my week, and watch other guys win on Tour or get in contention when I feel like I'm good enough to be there,” you say. “I guess in the scheme of things it's a small sacrifice to not win a couple of Tour events if you're going to win the U.S. Open or something like that. That's where I'm placing the importance at the moment. That's kind of how I think about it.”
OK, so you win your first major, then pull the ol’ superstar move by cutting back on tournaments? Smooth move. Now that’s what a guy with a green jacket in his closet does to … what’s that? Oh, you implemented that strategy years ago?
“Well, through 2010 and then really cut back in 2011 and kind of the whole plan, I laid it out and started putting that into practice to just essentially focus on playing well in the big events – the majors and world events and The Players,” you maintain. “The frustration was really high in 2010. I was playing well, not getting results that I wanted. I was frustrated with a lot of things because of that. I'd had enough, essentially, of not playing well enough in the big events when I felt I could. So I had to do something different. You have to after a while if it's not working. If it is broke, you've got to fix it.”
So let’s see: You’re a Masters champion, the only man with a chance to win the Grand Slam and you’ve remained humble and unpretentious. Now I get it. What a great angle. That’s going to play well in big cities and small towns. In countries near and far. With men and women, old and young
I take everything back, Adam Scott. You really do get it. And you’re doing it all right.