AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Nick Faldo is one of only three players who have claimed back-to-back Masters victories and he rates Adam Scott’s prospects of joining that illustrious group as “good” in this week’s edition.
Scott has enhanced his status as one of the game’s leading players with a superb run of form over the past year, but needs to avoid “getting wound up about defending” if he is to retain his Masters crown, according to Faldo.
“Adam’s chances of winning this week are good,” Faldo told Reuters outside the iconic clubhouse at Augusta National on a sun-splashed Wednesday.
”He has been playing so well, he sounds good and he’s enjoying it all. It’s all about if he believes he has prepared well, prepared freely without too many obligations and what-have-you.
“If he’s not twitched up about it all, he will be delighted to get to that first tee tomorrow, I should think, and get on with it.”
Scott won last year’s Masters in a gripping playoff with Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, becoming the first Australian to claim the green jacket, and is among the favorites this time.
However, repeat wins at Augusta National are rare with only Jack Nicklaus, in 1965 and 1966, Faldo, in 1989 and 1990, and Tiger Woods, in 2001 and 2002, accomplishing the feat since the tournament was launched in 1934.
Asked why he thought the feat was so rare, Faldo replied: ”I guess you really have to wind yourself up for it before Masters week. I was very fortunate in 1990.
”About a month before, I was practicing in England and I suddenly said to myself: ‘I‘m not going to defend. Just go and win another one.’ So rather than getting wound up about defending, make it a mission to go and win another one.
“And when I got here and got momentum, it was a real motivation in the playoff. I thought to myself: ‘I am not giving up my jacket. I‘m not putting this on somebody else.’ It was really quite good for me in the end.”
Faldo won the 1990 Masters in a playoff with American Raymond Floyd, and felt that the stars had aligned perfectly for him that week
”It was great for me in 1990,“ smiled the former world number one. ”A lot of things were going on and (caddie) Fanny Sunesson was brand new on the bag. She had done a couple of weeks with me through the Florida Swing and it was her first Masters.
”Unbeknown to me, that was really good for me because when we played practice rounds here, I was constantly saying: ‘Well, we’re going to be doing this and trying to do that, I want to do this and I don’t want that.’
“That helped with visualization, helped me stay positive, and I had a really good weekend. I shot 66 on Saturday, the low round of the day, and 69 on Sunday playing with Jack (Nicklaus). It was like the stars were telling me I had a shot at this.”
Scott, who has climbed to number two in the world rankings, is well aware that he faces a stiff challenge in one of the most open Masters in decades.
Asked why he thought back-to-back victories had been so rare, he said: ”I don’t know if there are answers … it’s just one of those things.
”I certainly don’t think any of the (champion’s media and sponsor) responsibilities are so draining that it’s going to cost you having a good week out on the golf course.
“In time, I‘m sure more and more guys will (record repeat Masters wins), but at the moment, it’s only a few. I’d like to add my name to that list this week.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Julian Linden