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Adam Scott comes to US Open as a major champion
Woods still drives the show in golf, already a four-time winner on tour this year as he tries to end his five-year drought in the majors. McIlroy, a major champion each of the last two years, is in one of his slumps and has yet to win this year.
Scott, meanwhile, is trying to join some elite company. Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan are the only players in the last 60 years to have won the Masters and U.S. Open in the same season.
And while every Masters champion has that opportunity, Scott is good enough to make the quest realistic.
“I can’t lie to you _ I do feel a lot better coming here, even discussing that kind of thing,” Scott said. “It’s a good feeling to come here to know that I’ve achieved that. I’ve got my first major. And my sights are definitely set on trying to win more.”
The biggest star could be Merion, hosting the U.S. Open for the first time since 1981. And the course at the moment is sharing the stage with Mother Nature.
Merion received more than 3 inches of rain on Friday, which left it unplayable Saturday. Even as players were getting started Monday morning, more sheets of rain began to fall. Some of the bunkers were flooded, and the course was closed until 11 a.m. A little more than three hours later, the rain returned.
The only activity on the course was workers using squeegees to remove small pools of water from the greens and some fairways. The thick rough was wet, mangled and muddied. Even as players tried a third time to practice, dark clouds loomed and more rain was on the way.
Woods returned to hit pitch shots from short of the 18th green. There wasn’t much work to get in. Scott had wanted to play seven rounds at Merion leading to the U.S. Open, so he was glad he showed up a week ago.
“I’ve had three full rounds and that’s taken my time trying to figure everything out,” Scott said. “I think I’ve got a pretty good idea where I’m going to try to go. Obviously with it being a little soft, it becomes a little more simple than what it was. The ball is just going to stop where it lands. So if you’re accurate, you’ll be fine.”
The change in Scott came early in the 2011 season, when he was frustrated with the direction of his game, especially in the majors. Even though he reached as high as No. 3 in the world, he never seriously challenged in the Grand Slam events. He huddled with his swing coach and longtime friend Brad Malone and mapped out a plan.
“He has been so influential in so many decisions of mine, and I think it’s been helpful because he knows me well as a person as well as knowing my golf swing very well,” Scott said. “He could see the frustration, so he just essentially eliminated things that frustrated me and made everything a positive. Just set things up so golf was incredibly enjoyable for me and I was getting better all the time.”
Scott paid more attention to improving than his scores. He was more frustrated by his runner-up finish in the 2011 Masters than his meltdown at Royal Lytham because he controlled the tournament for 68 holes in the British Open.
And if Angel Cabrera had chipped in on the first playoff hole to win the Masters?
“They’re tough pills to swallow, but that’s golf,” Scott said. “Just because you get close once doesn’t mean you’re going to get given one. And that was something that I was very conscious of the last four holes at Augusta. I stood there on the 15th fairway and said, `You’re two back and no one is going to give this to you today. You’re going to have to something.’ You’re owed nothing in golf. You really just have to go and get it.”
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