SYDNEY (Reuters) - World number two Adam Scott’s victory lap of his home nation draws to a close this weekend, with the U.S. Masters champion bidding to win the Australian Open for a clean sweep of the country’s three marquee tournaments.
Australia’s first winner at Augusta, Scott has battled exhaustion in a frenetic four-week swing Down Under, where he has won the national PGA and Masters titles in successive weeks before a third place finish at the World Cup on Sunday.
Amid the grind of training, playing, media appearances and sponsor events, Scott has enjoyed showing off his green jacket to fans and given a huge boost to the embattled local tour which has been devoured by the U.S. Tour’s new wraparound schedule.
Barring a terrible quintuple-bogey in his opening round at Royal Melbourne last week, which all but dashed his hopes of winning the World Cup, Scott has played impeccable golf on home soil but will be asked for one more special effort at Royal Sydney to clinch the ‘triple crown’ Down Under.
Compatriot Robert Allenby is the only player to win the Masters, PGA and Open treble in one season, but Scott joked that the 42-year-old had not passed on any tips from his 2005 triumphs.
“I caught up with Rob last night at the function and asked for some advice on how to go about it, but he didn’t offer any up,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“I’m left to my own devices this week.
“At the end of last week I was tired and I was tired the last couple of days but I rested,” added Scott, who won the 2009 Australian Open.
“That’s how you have to balance a schedule when you’re playing a little more than usual and I kind of had that in mind, knowing that I was playing four weeks. I’ve taken the days off where I can in the schedule.
“So today I feel good, kind of energized to get in. It’s the Australian Open; it’s the last week of the year for me, I want to finish big.”
Scott, who edged world number seven Matt Kuchar to win the Australian Masters, will vie with former world number one Rory McIlroy, who has had a barren year blighted by legal troubles and problems with his swing.
The two-time major champion, whose game has suffered since switching sponsorship and equipment to Nike, finished joint fifth at Dubai’s DP World Tour Championship and said his game was in the best shape it had been all year.
“I’ve said for the last couple of months I just wanted to try and finish this season strongly and get some momentum to go in 2014,” the Northern Irishman said.
“This would be the perfect place to get that first win of the year and give me a sort of springboard into the next season.”
Both Scott and McIlroy will face stiff competition at Royal Sydney from Jason Day, who won the World Cup’s individual trophy by two strokes on Sunday and drove Australia to victory in the tournament’s team component with Scott.
Day’s emotional win at Royal Melbourne was his first in Australia and came after he considered pulling out of the tournament when he learned that eight of his relatives were killed by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
World number 11 Day will be grouped with Scott and world number 43 American Kevin Streelman for the opening two rounds.
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne, Editing by Amlan Chakraborty