Scott's Masters win popular the golf world over

By Jay CoffinApril 15, 2013, 12:56 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – This is not giving away a trade secret, but journalists are a finicky bunch.

We don’t play well with others. We fuss about parking, we complain about access. We question the courage of those we cover while sitting in an air-conditioned room eating free ice cream.

But damn it, we recognize a good story.

We’re taught that there is no cheering in the media center. We cheer for no one, against no one. We root for the best story. We pull for history.

Many rules went out the window Sunday when Adam Scott won the Masters.

The dashing Aussie walked into an interview session an hour after winning his first major and nearly the entire room applauded for the most recent member of the green jacket fraternity.

Couldn’t help it.

'Morning Drive': Norman discusses Scott's win and impact on Australia

77th Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

Scott, you see, was the best story this week. He deserved to win this major as much as anyone has ever deserved to win a major.

Not just any major. This major. The Masters. Where Aussies have struggled for decades. Where Greg Norman ran into Jack Nicklaus in 1986, Larry Mize in 1987, and himself in 1996 via an epic collapse against Nick Faldo. Where Scott shot 67-67 over the weekend two years ago only to lose to CharlSchwartzel’s four birdies over the last four holes.

Scott, 32, had major championship scar tissue, although he wouldn’t admit it. The 2011 Masters caused some of it, but last summer’s British Open caused the most damage when Scott blew a four-shot lead over the last four holes to cough up the claret jug to Ernie Els.

He handled that meltdown with class. In fact, Scott was so calm in the aftermath that it seemed like others felt sadder for Scott than he did for himself.

“Everything I said after the Open is how I felt, and I meant it,” Scott said this Sunday. “It did give me more belief that I could win a major. It proved to me, in fact, that I could.”

Well, he did. And now he never again has to answer why he hasn’t.

It’s amazing what draining epic putts of 20 feet in regulation and 12 feet in a sudden-death playoff to win a green jacket will do.

Just 24 hours earlier Scott, one of golf’s good guys, was a veritable underachiever who had won big events but didn’t have the toughness to win the game’s biggest, most important tournaments.

Now, the major floodgates have opened and Scott is on top of the world. He’s gone from a man who couldn’t win a major to a man we expect to win several majors.

Funny how that works.

“Everybody questioned whether he had the intestinal fortitude to do that, but we all knew it,” said Norman, Scott’s idol growing up as a young mate in Oz. “The players knew it. He’s got the game to do it, and I was just extremely happy for him.”

So now we look to the future.

Scott has won nine PGA Tour events, and there aren’t too many clunkers on his resume. He’s won a World Golf Championship, a Players Championship, a Tour Championship and now a Masters. Heady stuff.

Now that the major monkey is off his back, Scott can play with less pressure. Consider this: Scott should own two of the last three majors. Obviously he doesn’t, but he’s too good a player to falter as dramatically as he did at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. It’s an exception, not the rule.

It’s not foolish to believe Scott could win multiple majors over the next six to eight years. He’s proved he can contend at the British Open and has a great record at the PGA Championship. His U.S. Open record is spotty, but this year’s championship is at Merion, a place where you have to think your way around the golf course. Scott is one of the game’s great thinkers.

Besides, Scott seems to have figured out the formula for contending in majors, having done so five times in the last nine big events.

The newly minted champ has competitively starved himself the past two years. While many top players feel the need to mold their games into shape while battling tournament conditions, Scott only plays events he feels he can win. He wants to miss competitive golf, so when he shows up on the first tee he desires the chase.

An old approach where he globetrotted the first decade of his career nearly burned him out. Now he’s made peace with preparation and doesn’t need to play 30-plus times a year.

The Masters was only Scott’s fifth event of the year. He’s fresh.

“Adam can go on to win more major championships because of his age and because of his experience and because he’s finally got one under his belt,” Norman said.

If you’re not thrilled for Scott, you have no heart. This victory meant very much to many people. Every win does. But this is infinitely different. For Scott and his country.

“He probably had more pressure on him today than any other player on the planet, because he was playing not only for the millions of Australians, but he was playing against the entire field and there was more pressure on him because no Australian has ever done it,” Norman said. “It’s a monumental task, and I’m so happy for him.”

Said Scott: “It's amazing that it's my destiny to be the first Aussie to win (the Masters). Just incredible.”

As the rain continued to fall over the Augusta grounds late Sunday, Jason Day, heartbroken after coming up two shots shy of the playoff, searched for a television to watch the waning moments.

He couldn’t be the first Australian to win, but he was rooting for his compatriot.

“I’m pulling for Scotty to finally win the Masters and be the first player to do it,” Day said. “If it wasn’t myself, I really want it to be Scotty.”

It was. And most at Augusta National rejoiced, even those who have rules against it.

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Randall's Rant: Too much Tiger for his own good?

By Randall MellAugust 20, 2018, 10:00 pm

We could be getting a dose of way too much Tiger Woods.

Yeah, that’s difficult to fathom, given how good his return to the game has been on so many levels, but the man might be too close to winning for his own good right now.

I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but a reasonable person has to wonder how playing the next three weeks in a row – five of the next six weeks – will affect Woods’ surgically fused spine.

That isn’t to say Woods is actually going to end up playing that much, but it looms as a real possibility.

In fact, dating back to the WGC Bridgestone, it’s possible he could be amid a run of playing seven times in the last nine weeks.

My sacroiliac joint is throbbing at the thought.

Beginning with The Northern Trust this week, Woods is committed to the first three legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t play the final leg at the Tour Championship if he qualifies.

It’s impossible to imagine he won’t be among Jim Furyk’s four captain’s picks to play the Ryder Cup.

So if Woods continues this streak of strong play, what’s going to give?

We hope it isn’t his back.

Or his neck.

Or his knees.

Only Woods and his doctors really know how much the 42-year-old can take physically, but there is more to lose than to gain by overdoing it now.

Yeah, the FedExCup Playoffs are great fun, more meaningful with each passing year, but it’s all about the major championships now for Woods.

Competitively, it’s all that matters.

Nobody but the most anal Tiger fans are going to remember how many FedExCups he won, but we’re all going to remember how many majors he won.

We’re all going to remember him resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus, if that’s where his summer tease is taking us, with Woods’ T-6 at The Open last month and his second-place finish at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.

Whether you are a Woods fan or not, how can you not want to see a historic chase of Jack as Tiger’s last chapter?

The game soars to yet another level with that.

A legion of young, new fans come pouring into the game even if Tiger only gets to 17 major championship titles.

So while the FedExCup Playoffs give us a postseason in golf, make Player of the Year chases more interesting and Ryder Cup captain’s picks more intriguing, they are a mere prelude for Tiger.

The playoffs give him another chance to get ready for next year’s Masters.

They give him a chance to win something before heading to Augusta National.

They give him another chance to rebuild his closing skills.

Woods doesn’t have to win the overall FedExCup to do that.

And he doesn’t have to play every event he commits to playing. He’s 20th in FedExCup points right now. He can get to the Tour Championship without playing all three of the legs leading there.

The tough spot for Woods is withdrawing from a FedExCup event. It’s trickier for him. With all the extra tickets sold when he commits, with all the excitement his anticipated arrival creates, it feels like a broken promise when he backs out.

Yeah, other players WD before big events for reasons beyond injury, but they don’t create the massive disappointment Woods creates.

For somebody invested in wanting to see Tiger vs. Jack reprised, it’s a lot easier to live with seeing Woods pull out of a FedExCup Playoff event to rest than to see him WD from one with an injury.

There’s more excitement in the prospect of seeing a lot of Woods in the majors next year than seeing too much of him now.

Here’s hoping somebody helps Tiger gets his FedExCup Playoff dosage right. His pain could be golf’s pain.

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Watch: Marshawn Lynch's golf game could use some work

By Grill Room TeamAugust 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch is pretty great at driving golf carts, but from the looks of a video that surfaced this weekend, his golf prowess starts and ends there.

"Beast Mode" was in attendance at Klay Thompson's charity event in San Francisco on Sunday, and luckily the Golden State Warriors shooting guard caught Lynch's swing on camera - because it is a sight to behold.

Dressed in a traditional golf hoodie, the former Super Bowl champion who has been thrilling fans with his raw athleticism and power on the gridiron for more than a decade showed off a swing that would make Charles Barkley blush.

Lynch was not questioned about the swing by members of media afterwards, although there's a pretty good chance you already know how he would've answered.

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Stenson (elbow) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 5:41 pm

Former FedExCup champ Henrik Stenson will start his postseason on the sideline, as he withdrew on Monday from The Northern Trust because of an elbow injury.

Stenson captured the season-long title back in 2013, when he won two of the four playoff events. At 50th in the current points standings, he's assured of a spot next week at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship and likely to make the field at the 70-man BMW Championship the following week.

A PGA Tour official confirmed that Stenson cited the elbow injury as the reason for his withdrawal. He was bothered by an injured elbow last month that led him to withdraw from the Scottish Open and limited his prep for The Open, where he tied for 35th.

The 42-year-old defended his title last week at the Wyndham Championship, tying for 20th place after shooting a 6-under 64 in the final round.

"It's fine, I can practice and I can play without any problems as of now, but I can't really go after it in the gym fully," Stenson told reporters last week in Greensboro. "The main thing that we can play and practice without having any problems there, so it's getting better."

The intrigue around Stenson's decision grows when the context of the Ryder Cup is taken into consideration. The Swede has represented Europe in the biennial matches four times, but he's currently 16th in both the European Points and World Points lists with only two weeks remaining in the qualification window.

Even before skipping this week's event in New Jersey, Stenson appeared likely to need a pick from captain Thomas Bjorn, who will round out his 12-man roster with four selections on Sept. 5. Other notable players who are not currently in position to qualify include Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Russell Knox, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters.

Stenson becomes the fifth player to withdraw from this week's field, which does not feature alternates and is now down to 120 players. Rory McIlroy opted to rest up this week, while Patrick Rodgers is skipping the tournament to attend a wedding. Both Rickie Fowler (oblique) and Bud Cauley (June car accident) withdrew because of injury.

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PAC zeroing in on Tour's secondary cut

By Rex HoggardAugust 20, 2018, 4:29 pm

The season’s final player advisory council meeting will be held on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, and one item of interest on the agenda appears to be gaining traction among the 16-member panel.

The secondary cut - introduced in 2008 to address large fields after the 36-hole cut and pace of play - has become increasingly unpopular. In 2014, the PGA Tour eliminated the secondary cut, which occurs if 78 players make the 36-hole cut, at the first two playoff stops. Following a 54-hole cut at this year’s Players Championship, some suggested it should not be used at the circuit’s marquee event.

The alternative that’s being studied is to reduce the cut at all Tour events from the lowest 70 players and ties to the lowest 65 players and ties. This would allow the circuit to eliminate the secondary cut at all events.

“I think I’m a fan of it, because I’m a fan of trying to play twosomes on the weekends as much as possible,” said PAC member Paul Casey. “In Europe it seems to work all the time. I don’t like the extra cut on a Saturday, never liked that. A guy could have an amazing Sunday, he could go out and shoot 61 or something and get a top 10.”

The European Tour utilizes a 65-and-ties cut, as does the Tour, which had 78 players or more make the cut in just three of 23 events this season.

The PAC requested more information and is expected to address the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.