Scott Has Moved On From Open Collapse

GUANGDONG, CHINA | As in past years, there were pictures of the golfers across the double-doors of the hotel elevators at the WGC-HSBC Champions. The players think they are fun but, when Adam Scott came face to face with a life-size Ernie Els kissing the Open’s Claret Jug, he startled.
The doors opened and the 2012 “Champion Golfer of the Year” disap¬peared from view. But Scott’s memory had taken a jolt. He was back at Lytham.
He had been six ahead of Els at the turn and still four clear after 14. Then, though, he dropped a shot at each of the last four holes for his Open dreams to go up in smoke.
Today, he can talk cheerfully enough of how the one shot he would want to have again was his second to the 17th.
“Everything,” he recalls, “was okay until I was walking up to the ball. That was when I heard the roar from Ernie’s holed putt at the 18th and realised I had to finish 4-4 to win.
“I knew that I needed to aim a long way right but my timing was slightly out and I went left, the one place I couldn’t afford to go. It wasn’t just nerves. It was – and is – my bad shot.
“To me, it didn’t add up to an implosion. I dropped a shot at each of those holes and, though I continued to do some of the difficult things well, I failed to recover.”
Seeing the lift doors had brought it all back but the 32-year-old Australian was quick to say that he does not begin to dwell on what happened on a daily basis.
“At the time – even before I walked off the green, in fact – I was looking ahead.
“The last thing I wanted was for that to be the defining moment of my career. I told myself how, if I could win majors in the future, it might get no more than a passing mention as one of the ones I hadn’t won.
“Regardless of the result, it remains the highlight of my year. I had worked hard to play like I did for the first 68 holes. I got a great buzz out of it and I showed everyone, myself included, that I was good enough to win majors. Before that week, I had my doubts. Now, I don’t.”
His handling of everything that hap¬pened immediately afterwards was exemplary. He answered the same media questions over and over and without so much as a hint of irritation.
“To be honest,” he says, “I was com¬pletely numb. I was just being myself.”
That “self,” as he admits, had been in¬fluenced by the conduct of his great hero, Greg Norman, through good times and bad, and also by the way he was reared by his parents.
Scott’s father was with him at Lytham.
“He was probably devastated,” sug¬gests Adam. “He’s a PGA member and golf has been his life. It would have meant the world to him if I’d won but, when I didn’t, he said all the right things to get me back on track.”
When father and son left Lytham, they headed straight for Adam’s house in Crans-sur-Sierre.
“We spent some serious time on the couch,” recounts Scott, “but we also man¬aged to get caught up in some odd-ball TV series, which was a good move.”
Though he had said of his father that he was “probably devastated,” Adam had no doubts what soever concerning his mother’s post-Open state.
“She was shattered,” he confesses. “She was back home in Australia and it was so much harder for her. My father sensed that I was going to be all right but she couldn’t see that from where she was.”
It was the reaction of friends that turned things round for her.
“All of them,” says Scott gratefully, “seemed to strike the right note and make her feel like a proud mum.”
Steve Williams, the caddie he inherited from Tiger Woods, was another to take it hard. As Scott says, Williams’ usual rou¬tine from that kind of a position had been to go on and win.
Prior to the Open, Scott had thought that Lytham was the last venue where he would have had a chance. Which is why he is so excited about 2013 at Muirfield, his favourite among the Open links.
“The hardest thing might be to keep my expectations low enough,” he surmises.
After the last Muirfield Open, he spent a long time ruing the fact that he had missed the cut by one. Had he made it, he would have had the chance to chase up the leader-board before the storms took hold on the Saturday afternoon.
Come next July, he says he will be fuelled by the best of his play at Lytham coupled with the enhanced level of sup¬port he has known since.
“There’s been the odd spectator who’s yelled ‘You’re a choker’ but, for the most part, people have offered nothing but en¬couragement.”
If there is one cry which rings in his ears above the rest, it is because it so aptly mirrors how he feels himself: “Don’t worry, you’ll get the next one.”


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