The rise and fall and rise of Adam Scott

By Rex HoggardApril 7, 2014, 3:00 pm

KOORALBYN, Australia – Off a winding country road deep within the Queensland hinterlands is the Kooralbyn International School, a weathered and slightly dated sports specific institution with a sneaky good resume.

This isn’t where Adam Scott learned to play golf. Nor did he dig his competitive fire or resolve from the dusty hillside. But Kooralbyn was where the Australian first put to paper the loftiest of expectations that would take nearly two decades to reach.

Scrawled in black and white in his no nonsense singular simplicity is everything one needs to know about Scott – “I would like to be a world-class player,” Scott wrote in December 1996.

Coming from your normal, off-the-shelf 16-year-old, such a boastful benchmark could be dismissed as youthful indifference or perhaps false bravado, but from the moment Phil Scott, Adam’s father, put a club in his son’s hands there was never a question of talent.

“Every kid says I want to be the world’s No. 1 or I want to win a major, so you take it with a grain of salt. You would have never imagined it would get to where it is now,” said Peter Claughton, the head golf coach at Kooralbyn when Scott attended the remote school.

Leave it to Scott to take the long view, even as a teenager.

For the Record: Phil Scott - Adam's Masters win (click for more clips)

The dashing champion who became the first Australian to slip his arms into the Masters’ green jacket last spring hasn’t changed much in his years since he attended Kooralbyn, soft-spoken, insightful and honest with clarity of thought that still transcends his years.

In broad terms, “a world-class player” went well beyond winning major championships – although bringing the coveted green jacket home certainly leaves little room for debate – or being ranked No. 1 in the world, a goal that is now mathematically within his grasp with Tiger Woods on the extended DL. No, for Scott achieving “world-class” status required the delicate convergence of his prodigious talent with a healthy dose of mental toughness.

The latter would take years to hone and would test every ounce of his resolve, while the former came as naturally as a 300-yard drive.

When Phil Scott, a club professional who tried his hand as a touring professional in his early years, moved the family from Adelaide in South Australia to Queensland the moment dovetailed with his son’s growing interest in the game.

Phil Scott had been hired to be the general manager at Twin Waters Golf Club just north of Brisbane and young Adam’s passion and play blossomed with the relocation.

Even at such an early age, Scott had few peers recalled John Jennings, a member at Twin Waters who vividly remembered his first encounter with the skinny kid with the sonic swing.

“I turned up at the tee at the appointed time which was noon and there were two elderly ladies, probably in their early 60s, and a little boy and it was his 12th birthday. That little boy was Adam Scott,” said Jennings, who remembered Scott shooting 84 (12 over) and dropping his handicap to 12 that day.

For Scott, however, high noon still loomed well down the road.

Scott’s time at Kooralbyn – where years later Jason Day would also hone his world-class game – was short, but from an early age there were whispers. Scott, along with fellow phenom Aaron Baddeley, were the proverbial pointy end of the spear in Australia’s golf awakening and inevitably the conversation would always turn to Augusta National, the site of so much collective angst.

For a proud sporting nation, Augusta National was cursed grounds and Greg Norman, a three-time bridesmaid at the Masters, was their hero whose heart had been broken and the pain shared by an entire country.

“I’m working with Aaron and know how good of shape he was in, and he and Adam are at a junior event and Aaron calls and says, ‘I won my age division but finished second overall,’” said Dale Lynch, the golf coach at the Victorian Institute of Sport at the time. “Aaron shot 6 under so I ask what (Scott) shot and he said 16 under. My first introduction to Adam was this kid shooting these scores and beating a kid I’m working with that was really good. It was scary.”

Before Scott could end Australia’s long Masters winter, however, he would have to endure his share of heartbreak.

There was a brief stop at UNLV before turning pro in 2000 and enjoying almost immediate success, with victories on the European Tour (2001) and PGA Tour (2003) in his rookie year on both circuits.

Scott would add five more Tour titles before his 30th birthday but something was missing. Prior to 2011, he had just four top-10 finishes in 39 major starts, and only one (a tie for ninth at the 2002 Masters) where it most mattered.

“There wasn’t a lot of great experience there for me. There was a lot of average golf and when you’re playing average in a major they really show you how average you’re playing,” Scott said. “There were a couple of really bad scores and some embarrassing moments.”

Adam Scott

But if greatness is born from adversity then Scott entered the final leg of his climb to world-class status in 2009, when he posted just a single finish inside the top 10 and concluded the season outside the top 100 in Tour earnings for the first time in his career.

Two summers later, on a warm and sunny English afternoon, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place for the would-be major champion as putt after putt refused to drop. Four strokes clear with four holes to play at the 2012 Open Championship, Scott limped home with four closing bogeys and lost by a stroke.

Most athletes struggle to pinpoint the instance when the winning epiphany arrives, but for Scott it was the precise moment when Ernie Els hoisted the claret jug over his head on Royal Lytham’s 18th green.

“We’ll all be able to look back and think that (the 2012 Open) made him,” Phil Scott said. “It made him realize that he woke up the next morning and there was still oxygen and he still saw the ceiling and you might as well get on with it.”

Less than a year later Scott would play his last six holes at Augusta National in 3 under to tie Angel Cabrera and clinch his slice of Australian history with a 12-footer for birdie at the second extra hole.

At the time, the normally subdued Scott allowed himself a rare moment of retrospection.

“It’s amazing that it’s my destiny to be the first Aussie to win, just incredible,” he smiled.

Of course it would be Adam Scott, their Scotty, to end the Aussie duck, a cricket analogy that summed up 79 years of frustration at Augusta National. Born from wild expectations, forged through adversity and delivered at the perfect moment to end one of sports’ most confounding droughts.

“I don’t think it’ll get any better than that moment,” said Phil Scott, who was waiting for his son behind the 10th green following the playoff on that gloomy Masters Sunday. “He could win 10 green jackets and whatever championships, to me that will always be the moment.”

It was the moment Scott finally lived up to the potential of being the world-class player the 16-year-old envisioned nearly two decades ago at Kooralbyn.

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Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.

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Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 3:53 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”

The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.

“When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”

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Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”

Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.

“I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”

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Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 3:03 pm

John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Tour.

Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.

But Senden told that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.

"I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."

Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.

Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.

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Added videos shed light on Reed rules controversy

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 2:39 pm

Additional fan videos shed some light on a rules controversy involving Patrick Reed during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, when Reed suggested that Jordan Spieth would have gotten free relief after he was denied a favorable ruling.

Reed had sailed the green with his approach on the 11th hole Sunday at Bay Hill, coming to rest under a palm tree. As the below thread of videos from fan Tyler Soughers illustrates, Reed wanted a free drop because he believed a nearby television tower was in the way of the shot he planned to play.

The initial rules official didn't "see" the shot Reed planned to attempt given the tight confines, and his decision to deny Reed a free drop was upheld by a second rules official. Reed eventually tried to play the ball, moving it a few feet, before being granted relief from the tower from the ball's new position. He ultimately made double bogey on the hole and tied for seventh.

After finally taking his free drop away from the tower, Reed was heard muttering to nearby fans, "What a crock of s---."

Reed and Spieth will have plenty of time to discuss their favorite rulings Friday, when the two players face off on the final day of round-robin play in Group 4 during the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin.