Adam Scott choked in the British Open overnight. It’s an awful term which can only be used as a slur, but it’s the right word and it’s not callous to use it.

If only I hadn't watched that replay of the 96 Masters before I went to bed

To paraphrase the words of Oscar Wilde and transpose them from polite London society to a windswept golf links: blowing a four stroke overnight lead may be regarded as a misfortune. But blowing a four stroke lead with just four holes to play was carelessness.

So where now for Scott? Will this haunt him for the rest of his career? Is he mortally wounded? Or, to borrow an equally droll British line from Monty Python’s Black Knight, is this “just a flesh wound”?

The 32 year old Adelaide-born, Queensland-raised, US-educated Swiss resident who until recently had a Serbian girlfriend, is quite the man of the world these days.

He’s got a world class golf game too. Scott boasts 18 wins worldwide, thanks to golf’s sweetest swing and a putting stroke which he’s transformed from erratic to reliable with the help of, ahem, a long shaft. He also has the world’s most accomplished bag-carrier in Tiger Woods’ old caddie Steve Williams.

In person, Scott is an uncomplicated character. In fact, he’s rather bland. That calm demeanour doesn’t make him the life of the party, but it is a huge asset out on the golf course as it usually – usually – makes him immune to mental meltdown.

Scott has shrugged off pressure before. He won a dozen tournaments worldwide before he won in Australia, and had been criticised for not bringing his best game home. In 2009, he cleared out to win the Australian Open at NSW GC by five strokes. He was ruthless that week.

Scott’s capitulation over those final four holes at Royal Lytham wasn’t as spectacular as Jean Van de Velde’s world’s best practice meltdown in the British Open in 1999. The Frenchman threw away the title with audacious shotmaking when sensible play was all that was required.

Adam Scott just started missing greens. Then he started missing putts. Then shorter putts. Then before you knew it, four shots had disappeared down the gurgler and Ernie Els had pipped him. It was actually quite a mild-mannered meltdown very much in tune with Scott’s demeanour.

But a meltdown it was. Perhaps he shouldn’t have looked at his phone before his final round. It contained a text from Greg Norman. Scott and Norman are close, but The Shark is the last name you want to see when your phone goes bzzzz.

Whatever the text said, Scott is still well placed to emulate and perhaps better Norman’s career tally of two Majors, and here’s why. Scott is nowhere near as egotistical as Norman. You know how they say “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”?

Well, that old adage can apply to a sportsman’s ego as well as his girth. Norman fell hard several times and eventually couldn’t pick himself up. Scott fell hard last night too, but he can recover, perhaps as soon as next month’s US PGA championship in South Carolina.

As a not totally unrelated aside, I was once lucky enough to watch Adam Scott and his British Open conqueror Ernie Els in action together. It was February 2004, at a now defunct tournament called the Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne.

Els shot out of the blocks with a course record 60 in the first round. After three rounds, he led the field by eight strokes. Adam Scott was his nearest challenger and the two played the final round together.

After just nine holes of that final round, Scott had drawn level. The duo then had an epic back nine dogfight. In a spooky preview of last night’s showdown, it ended in a one shot victory to the South African.

Els and Nick Faldo were among two notables that week who tipped Scott for Majors success in the future. They’re probably still right. Scott can still win a Major, and not just because of his silky game, but because he’s got a cool head to go with those super cool threads he wears.

He just needs to stay cool when it matters.

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11 comments

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    • Macca says:

      03:06pm | 23/07/12

      I always think that you need a superb putting game to win Majors, particularly The Open and The Masters.

      Scott’s iron play, particularly his long irons, are amongst the best in the world. But even with his broomstick putter, he is rarely amongst the top 10 - 20 in the world for least putts per round and similar statistics.

      Tiger, on the other hand, was regularly in the top 5 for putting statistics when he won all his Majors.

      Scott can probably win one if he has a hot week. But the gut feeling says he won’t.

    • Justin of Earlwood says:

      03:15pm | 23/07/12

      I’d hate for my work to be broadcast live, but at the end of the day, sports people’s sports are their job. Blowing a 4 stroke lead over the last 4 holes is a massive failure.

      I couldn’t help but equate it to the end of the 2010 F1 season for Mark Webber. Cadel’s 2008 Tour seemed like the missed opportunity of his career, but he came back & won it in 2011. Sadly, I can’t see Webber getting the chance again, but I hope Scott looks to sports people like Evans (& even McIlroy last year) to get back on the horse.

    • SimpleSimon says:

      03:48pm | 23/07/12

      In Webber’s defence, at the half way mark of the current F1 season he’s sitting in second place. He’s about 34 points behind, but with 10 races to go that’s not an unreachable deficit.

    • Justin of Earlwood says:

      04:04pm | 23/07/12

      Yeah, this years F1 season could go any way, but it’s more than likely his destiny won’t be in his own hands as it was in 2010. It’s hard to look at the 2010 season & think that he failed to cash in when he had the car & the championship lead near the end.

      It would probably be the Ernie Els route if he wins this year. That’s not to diminish Els (or Webber if he wins). These events are decided by the best over the duration of the competition.

    • John says:

      03:35pm | 23/07/12

      It was more than a mere choke; it was a choke of Normanesque proportions. 

      But that’s sport at the elite level. Some people can do it when the pressure is on. Unfortunately for Adam Scott he is not one of them.

    • Punters Pal says:

      03:50pm | 23/07/12

      Where was his accomplished caddy Steve Williams when it was all going pear shape? Giving him three wood on the last, just madness. Williams looks way too grumpy and stressed out to be a positive influence on anyone.

      I feel sorry for Adam. Stayed with him until the bitter end and was off to be 10 seconds after the missed putt. He was too defensive and afraid to take an initiative. Still, it is still hard to take he lost.

    • sunny says:

      05:24pm | 23/07/12

      Too right. When he was standing there waiting to putt you could see he was ‘reflecting’ on bad shots (most likely the three-putt) on recent holes. Caddy Steve should have been in his ear, keeping him in the present. Maybe not with advice because I think Scott makes all his own decisions, but with some kind of conversation. He couldn’t have turned Scott’s confidence around, but he could have at least stopped him reflecting on those bad putts/shots and beating himself up about them.

    • Chris says:

      05:09pm | 23/07/12

      The chances of anyone winning a major are remote. Adam Scott has blown his chance. He has a sweet swing, but so do a thousand others. He’s won some tournaments? So have a thousand others. He won’t win a major.

    • sunny says:

      05:12pm | 23/07/12

      I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to stay awake, but after watching it I felt sick in the guts and couldn’t get to sleep. Stuff the “choker” attitude it’s not about that - no skin off my nose - just the investment that he, and we made - four days of hope and optimism sliding away in the space of 30 minutes. If I felt crook I can only imagine how Scott was. And then there was Ernie Els who couldn’t even win an ugly contest lately (although he’s got the potential) the only one in the field going in the right directing on the scoreboard - I knew that was a bad omen just as much as the devil wind on course. Our last Major winner Geoff Ogilvy won the US Open the same way Ernie did yesterday - establishing a ‘decent’ clubhouse score while Phil Mickelson and co. imploded their lead on the home stretch. Swings and roundabouts I guess.

    • JB says:

      09:01am | 24/07/12

      Not sold on this one being a “choke of epic proportions”. He tightened up a little for sure and hit at least one ordinary shot on each of the last 4 holes. It was tough going out there. Conditions weren’t great and the course was pretty unforgiving. Almost anyone who found a fairway or greenside bunker was giving a way a shot. Scotty just managed to find a couple in a row. Tiger bogeyed 15, 16 and 17 by the way.

      Credit to Ernie. He played a superb final round. I remember during the front nine it felt like every five minutes i was watching an Els birdie putt from around the 12-16 ft range. Nothing was dropping. Eventually the tide turned and they started dropping for him. Scott always looked to be just hanging in there as his nearest rivals failed to take advantage of what was always only an average round, at best.

    • Fingers says:

      09:59am | 24/07/12

      Agree JB. I watched the whole round and it was not a “choke of epic proportions”. It was just unfortunate golf at the wrong time. The course finally bared it’s teeth on Sunday with the wind up and the greens having dried and firmed. Not many were going ‘round without making bogies or higher. If he had started doming and pulling them horribly like McDowell’s shot on I think it was 17, then you could say it was a massive choke. But he head a short putt do a complete 180 around the cup and come back out, and a couple of pretty well hit shots find trouble.

      His 3 wood off the tee on 18 was pretty decent, it just took an unfavourable bounce and ran into the trap. It can happen so easy on those undulating links courses.

      Scott hits it pure and just lucked out on a tough course with the wind up, unfortunately it was at the worst time possible - but a choke of epic proportions, no, not in my opinion. He’ll bounce back and win a major sometime in the future.

 

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