MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Adam Scott will appreciate some time off to stop and smell the roses after a breakthrough year and a maiden major trophy at the U.S. Masters, but the Australian may find it hard to quit while enjoying some of the best form of his career.
The world number two tees up for the second week of a month-long swing of his home country at the Australian Masters this week, where he will defend the title he credits for easing the crushing disappointment of last year’s British Open and setting up his Augusta triumph.
Scott blitzed a modest field to win the Australian PGA Championship last week in his former Gold Coast home, and his homecoming continues at Royal Melbourne from Thursday where he will take on American world number eight Matt Kuchar and Fijian three-time major champion Vijay Singh.
Children mobbed Scott as he donned the famed green jacket of an Augusta winner at the Gold Coast, and the amiable 33-year-old was itching to show it off again for Melbourne fans.
“It’s down here this week. Hopefully the weather improves a little bit and I’ll be able to bring it out a little bit for everyone to see,” Scott told reporters on Wednesday after completing nine holes of the pro-am in miserable, rainy weather.
“It doesn’t get seen much down here, so I’m trying to get it out as much as possible, not get it too dirty.
“Just the golf fan in me, when you see it and you stop and think about it, it’s amazing that it’s actually in the wardrobe and I get to travel around with it.
“Maybe also for an Australian it’s the holy grail of golf because we’ve been trying for it for so long ... I get to wear it around the house or in a hotel room, it’s quite surreal actually.”
Scott returns to Melbourne a far different golfer to the pensive character of a year ago, who was plagued by questions about his mental fortitude in the wake of his British Open meltdown.
Scott blew a four-stroke lead with four holes to play at Lytham to gift South African Ernie Els the win.
At Kingston Heath last year, another showpiece course on Melbourne’s famed sandbelt, Scott won the local Masters after an enthralling, weekend-long tussle with British Ryder Cup player Ian Poulter, one of the world’s finest exponents of matchplay.
The manner of victory, closing it out in the last few holes, preserved the Australian’s record of winning at least one title every year.
After putting on the winner’s ‘gold jacket’, Scott quipped the green one would be next.
“Closing out the tournament was obviously the big deal to me after what happened at Lytham,” Scott said.
“To stand there with a couple-shot lead with three to play and close the tournament out in solid fashion was important because I certainly didn’t want to make a habit of letting tournaments slip.
“If I didn’t have that experience and I had to fall back on Lytham, it might have been a really different mindset (at Augusta), so that was important.
Scott will play at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne next week before closing out his tour Down Under at the Australian Open in Sydney ahead of a well-deserved break with family and friends.
Scott, however, was already relishing the prospect of returning to the U.S. tour to pursue his goal of completing a career grand slam of golf’s majors.
“I want to keep competing and try to push myself at the moment,” said Scott, whose driving and iron-play was on fire at Royal Pines last week.
“My game is probably as good as it has been.
“I’m really looking forward to going back and I feel like I have an opportunity to develop even more there and become a dominant player like a Phil Mickelson or a Tiger Woods there.
“I have the opportunity, I’m not saying I’m going to (do it), but I’ve got a bit of momentum going, so I’m really looking forward to going back and having a chance to win another major.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury