Newsmaker of the Year No. 3: Adam Scott

By Rex HoggardDecember 26, 2013, 1:05 pm

In the April gloom Adam Scott unleashed a primal roar that was some 80 years in the making – “C’mon Aussie,” he roared into the approaching darkness.

Nine months removed from a meltdown at the 2012 Open Championship that some figured the 33-year-old might never recover from, Scott birdied three of Augusta National’s last six holes on Sunday to force overtime against Angel Cabrera and beat the Argentine with a birdie at the second playoff frame.

Had that been the end of Scott’s 2013 tale his status as one of the year’s top stories would have been undeniable, a real-time climb from torment to triumph. But the soft-spoken star with leading-man looks and a textbook golf swing was far from finished.

In fact, before Scott clipped Cabrera to become the first Australian to slip into the green jacket, he’d already made a surprising mark on the game.

In January, Scott joined Tim Clark at Torrey Pines to take a stand against the USGA and Royal & Ancient’s proposed ban on anchoring. It was out of character for both players, particularly Scott, who began using a long putter in 2011, and their arguments against the ban helped shape a debate that threatened to shred the tender fabric that ties golf’s rule-makers.

“It’s a good time to speak up and make people understand why we feel so passionate about this and why it affects not only us but thousands of golfers around the world,” Scott said during a Golf Channel interview in March.

“If they came out and said they were going to ban the short putter, I see no difference in that. How would a person who uses a short putter feel? Neither style of putting has been against the rules. It’s unfair to change the rules mid-round.”

Golf’s rule-makers went ahead with the ban but not before allowing that the rule-making process going forward would be more inclusive, a nod to a growing number of PGA Tour types who said it may be time for two sets of rules.

Along the way Scott added a FedEx Cup playoff victory at The Barclays, climbed to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and anchored an International Presidents Cup team that is closer to relevance than many observers realize despite another loss at Muirfield Village.

But it was back home in Australia where Scott made his most significant impact.

In November he began his homecoming tour at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast, where he grew up. Scott trotted out the green jacket at every turn because “it doesn’t get seen too much down here,” he smiled. On Friday at the Australian PGA he began to understand the full measure of his Masters victory when officials held a “green day” for the fans.

“I expected to see some fans in green, but to have so many players wearing green as well ... it was very humbling,” Scott said.

He won the Australian PGA by four strokes to secure the career Australian Slam, with victories in his country’s Open, Masters and now PGA. A week later at Royal Melbourne he added more fuel to the frenzy with his second consecutive Australian Masters triumph and, for good measure, teamed with Jason Day to claim the World Cup a week later on the sand-belt gem.

The homecoming was only slightly marred when Scott was outdueled by Rory McIlroy at the Australian Open in Sydney, but that miscue did nothing to diminish his impact on the Australian psyche.

The country had been waiting for an heir to Greg Norman, a player who could transcend golf with his play and his personality. Early in his career, Scott had been dubbed the “Baby Shark” by then-swing coach Butch Harmon.

“They used to call me that when I was a kid when I first went to them because I carried on about Greg so much, but it didn’t stick,” Scott said.

Perhaps it was best that moniker didn’t take considering the depth of his success in 2013. Some suggested during Scott’s victory tour that he’d eclipsed his hero in the public consciousness as evidenced by the crowds that greeted him at every turn and golf’s new status on the front page.

In signature Scott fashion, he dismissed that idea, opting instead for a humility that was neither forced nor false.

“With Norman, I felt he was larger than life and I don’t feel like that’s what I’m doing, but I did enjoy seeing so many kids out there,” Scott said at Royal Melbourne. “Hopefully I can help the next bunch of guys come along.”

All victories and defeats are personal, but Scott’s triumph at the Masters was shared by the Australian collective and, when fully examined, appears greater than the sum of its parts. From his letdown at Lytham St. Annes in 2012 to the elation of ending an entire nation’s Masters nightmare, the full measure of Scott’s 2013 promises to transcend golf and the calendar. 

More Newsmakers in 2013:

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 4: Phil Mickelson

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 5: Anchoring

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 6: Inbee Park

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 7: Rory McIlroy

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 8: Henrik Stenson

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 9: Jordan Spieth

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 10: Vijay Singh

Newsmaker of the Year: Honorable mentions

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods has a three-shot lead entering the final round of the Tour Championship and is alongside Rory McIlroy in the final group. We're tracking him.

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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

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McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”

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Glover trails Straka at Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 12:19 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Sepp Straka moved into position Saturday to earn a PGA Tour card in the Tour Championship, shooting a 7-under 64 to take the third-round lead.

With the top 25 earners in the four-event Tour Finals getting PGA Tour cards Sunday, Straka birdied the final three holes to reach 18-under 195 - a stroke ahead of Curtis Luck, Lucas Glover and Denny McCarthy at Atlantic Beach Country Club.

''It's always good to get an extra birdie in late. I got three of them to finish, which was nice,'' Straka said. ''It's very bunched up there, so you can't really take off, you've got to keep the pedal down and see where you end up at the end.''

Straka entered the week tied for 80th in the card race with $2,744. The 25-year-old former Georgia player from Austria won the KC Golf Classic in August for his first Tour title. He finished 31st on the money list to advance to the four-tournament series.

''My ball-striking is really good,'' Straka said. ''It's been good all week. It's been really solid. I really haven't gotten in a whole lot of trouble and have been able to capitalize on a good number of chances with the putter. Hit a couple of bad putts today, but some really good ones to make up for it.''

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Luck also shot 64. The 22-year-old Australian went into the week 16th with $41,587.

''Obviously, it just comes down to keeping that momentum going and trying not to change anything,'' Luck said. ''That's the really important thing and I felt like I did that really well. I played really aggressive on the back nine, still went after a lot of shots and I hit it close a lot out there.''

Glover had a 68. The 2009 U.S. Open champion entered the week 40th with $17,212.

McCarthy shot 67. He already has wrapped up a card, earning $75,793 in the first three events to get to 11th in the standings.

The series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.