The Masters: How Scott can make an historic defenceApril, 2014
Mark Townsend singles out the Australian for more Augusta heroics
We all know the tried-and-tested formulas going into the week of the Masters.
Two that are repeatedly trotted out are not to back the winner of the Par 3 contest nor the defending champion. The first has yet to be proved wrong, the latter just three times in the tournament’s history.
Jack Nicklaus (65-66), Nick Faldo (89-90) and Tiger Woods (01-02) are the only players to win back to back to metaphorically slip themselves into their Green Jackets, this year I’m taking Adam Scott to do likewise.
The general feeling is that lightning won’t strike twice within 12 months; there are a load of interviews in the run-up to Thursday’s tee time, the hunger might not be quite there and it’s ‘somebody else’s time’.
Another way to look at it, and how Scott will view his chances, is that he is a whisker away from being (on paper) the best player in the world while the best player (on paper) is out injured. His star is on the rise, Tiger Woods’ appears to be on the wane.
We have an obsession with very current form but Scott is ticking along just fine. At Bay Hill he opened with a brilliant 62, before slipping away in the final round when everything was off and his long putter failed to save him.
But, not so long ago he was winning the Australian PGA, Australian Masters and World Cup of Golf in consecutive weeks before being pipped at the 72nd hole by Rory McIlroy for the Australian Open and a clean sweep.
"We have an obsession with very current form but Scott is ticking along just fine"
With the Bay Hill stumble Scott fans will now be able to point out that nobody, since 2006, has won at Augusta having won an event coming into the Masters.
So, on this basis, we can discount Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, John Senden, Matt Every, Steven Bowditch and now Matt Jones.
For some players winning a Major represents the biggest week of their lives, a job very well done but one that is unlikely to be repeated. Scott, still 33, is at the peak of his powers and has embraced the new level of stardom.
He could easily have won the Open Championship three months after breaking through in Georgia and the thrill of having one Green Jacket has left him wanting more.
At Bay Hill he admitted that he has barely gone a week without having it on his back.
“I wear it quite frequently. It’s here with me this week and it’s gone almost every week but two, I think, with me, since I won. I’ve worn it around to friends’ houses and stuff like that. But someone told me Phil (Mickelson) went to a drive–through with it on. I didn’t really know if I should be pushing the boundaries of where I could wear the Green Jacket.
“He’s got a few of them, I’ve got one, I don’t want to get anyone upset back there at the golf club just yet. Maybe if I can get another couple I can do something else.”
So what’s not to like other than history counting against him? The course sets up beautifully for him, the Australian hoodoo has been put to bed and his last memory of the place, as vivid now as it was a year ago, was of a 12-foot birdie that was the sweetest he ever hit.