- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2005

This computer caddie is reaching for the metaphorical 1-iron and predicting that the greatest challenge to Tiger Woods’ dominance, short term and long term, will come from beneath the Fab Five.

The Tiger-tamer is exactly one spot down under the Fab Five at No. 6: Australian Adam Scott. While most of the sports world was focused on the NFL Draft last weekend, the 24-year-old from Adelaide was busy becoming the first player this season to collect victories on both the PGA and European tours.

Scott buried a top-heavy field that included Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia at the Johnnie Walker Classic just outside Beijing, coasting to victory after an opening-round, course-record 63 at a resort optimistically named Pine Valley.

The victory adds more momentum to the blossoming career of a player who seems destined for a head-on major collision with His Royal Swooshness.

Here are four reasons why Scott will be the first man to stand up on a Sunday at a Slam and stare Tiger down:

1. Trajectory. No, we’re not talking ball flight; we’re talking career path. Since turning pro in June 2000, Scott has improved steadily every season. He played his way into a European Tour card in eight starts in 2000, won once in Europe in 2001 (Alfred Dunhill) and twice in Europe in 2002 (Qatar Masters, Scottish PGA). He earned his first PGA Tour victory in 2003 (Deutsche Bank) and added two PGA Tour wins last year (Players Championship and Booz Allen). And now this season, he already has two worldwide wins before May (Nissan Open, Johnnie Walker). Are you noticing the trend?

2. Scott plays his best in big events, so it’s only natural he will start to show up routinely in the majors. Look at the Aussie’s record this season. Aside from his two victories, he has three other top 10s in seven starts. They came at the Mercedes (tied for fifth), World Match Play (T5) and the Players Championship (T8), the three most important events of the season that didn’t involve a green jacket. He’s got some improving to do in the majors (T33 at the Masters), but Scott is a player’s player.

3. Scott has that rare Tigeresque ability to dismantle both a course and the field. He owns a handful of scoring records, including the low-18 at the TPC of Boston, where the Deutsche Bank (62 in 2003) is held, and the 72-hole scoring record at the Scottish Open, where he shot 67-65-67-63 at Gleneagles in 2002 to win by a tour-high 10 strokes. He also tied the tournament scoring record at the Booz Allen Classic last season, posting 263 (66-62-67-68) to euthanize the field. He’s huge off the tee, might be the game’s most pure iron player and is steadily improving with the blade. If his putting ever clicks, he will take it sublimely low with even more regularity.

4. Despite his age, Scott is a killer closer. Folks marvel, and rightfully so, at Woods’ winning percentage when he’s leading or tied for the lead after 54 holes — 87.8 percent (36-for-41). Scott is a stunningly similar 87.5 percent (7-1) in those same situations, with his only blown opportunity coming in his first full season on the European Tour (2001 English Open). Constitution has as much to do with success in majors as raw talent and skill, and Scott seems to have the right stuff. The golf world is getting tired of waiting for Vijay, Ernie, Phil and Retief to prove they do, too.

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