ROCHESTER, New York (Reuters) - Adam Scott heads into this week’s PGA Championship with bitter-sweet memories of his British Open finish last month and a clear-cut aim to “bookend” what has already been a golden season for him in the majors.
The Australian made a long-awaited breakthrough in golf’s elite championships with a playoff win at the Masters in April, and was in good position to clinch the British Open at Muirfield before letting slip a one-shot lead with seven holes to play.
Scott’s bid for the coveted Claret Jug unraveled as he recorded four consecutive bogeys from the 13th, a collapse he said was even harder to swallow than his late meltdown in the 2012 British Open at Royal Lytham.
“I was probably more disappointed at the Open this year than last,” the world number five told reporters at Oak Hill Country Club on Tuesday while preparing for Thursday’s opening round at the season’s final major.
“I worked really hard to get myself in a position with nine holes to go because I got off to a slow start on Sunday. I felt that I had a bit of momentum going my way.
“And in the space of about 45 minutes, to go from leading to not even having a chance on the 16th tee was more disappointing, probably more so than at Lytham.”
Scott squandered a four-shot lead with four holes to play in last year’s British Open at Lytham, handing the title to South African veteran Ernie Els.
The Australian ended in a tie for third in this year’s championship at Muirfield, four strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson, but overall Scott concedes he has performed well at the majors this season.
“It’s been a good year,” he smiled. “It was really pleasing to play well again at the (British) Open ... so I feel like I’m in some kind of form coming into the PGA this week.
“I’d really love to get myself in there with a chance to kind of bookend the Masters with a PGA Championship for this year.”
Scott was especially pleased he was able to contend at the British Open after expectations had soared in his homeland following his playoff victory over Argentina’s Angel Cabrera at the Masters.
“I thought I was playing good before I won the Masters and really over the last couple of years I built a mind-set that I was good enough to be a major champion and it didn’t really matter that I wasn’t,” he said.
“Winning (the Masters) obviously was extremely satisfying and confirmed that I can do it. And I’ve backed it up with some decent play and a good performance in the Open, which is important, because you don’t want to win the Masters and expectations go through the roof and you play poorly.
“You’ve got to keep pushing and I’ve been really conscious to do that this year so I can get myself here this week feeling like I have as good a chance to win as anyone and can keep the momentum that I’ve built the last couple of years going.”
Scott likes the look of Oak Hill’s lush East Course, which last staged the PGA Championship in 2003 when he tied for 23rd.
“It’s presented immaculately,” he said. “There’s nothing fancy or tricky about it. It’s just a good, genuine, fair test. The good shots will be rewarded and the bad shots will be fairly punished, depending on how bad you hit it.
“But the rough is long and that’s the challenge here ... to keep it in the short stuff to give yourself a chance to score. There are some severe greens out there where it’s important to keep the ball under the hole, on or off the green.”
Scott will tee off in Thursday’s opening round in the company of this season’s other major winners - Englishman Justin Rose (U.S. Open) and American Mickelson.
Editing by Tony Jimenez