Adam Scott ready to step up to Major level
Through no fault of his own, it was hardly the most satisfying of wins and it will not count as an official PGA Tour title.
Yet Adam Scott's playoff victory at the rain-hit Nissan Open on Monday was a timely reminder that the 24-year-old Australian is one of the greatest talents in the game.
The studiously quiet man from Adelaide, who loves to read biographies, has already been tipped as a future world number one by his role model, compatriot and twice major winner Greg Norman.
The big-hitting Scott is coached by Butch Harmon, who previously advised former world number one Tiger Woods on his own swing, and the similarity between the two players is uncanny.
Norman's glowing endorsement was backed up last year when Scott became the youngest winner of the prestigious Players Championship at Sawgrass in Florida, an event widely regarded as the 'fifth major'.
He has since won the PGA Tour's Booz Allen Classic, in Maryland last June, and the truncated Nissan Open, at the rain-sodden Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles this week, to confirm his growing stature.
He sealed his latest triumph at the first extra hole, tapping in from three feet for a par to edge out American Chad Campbell and become the tour's first winner in nine years to be crowned champion after just two rounds.
Although his victory was worth $864,000, it does not count as an official win, meaning he will miss out on the usual two-year tour exemption and a place at the season-opening Mercedes Championship in Hawaii next year.
Scott had mixed feelings after his triumph lifted him to seventh in the official world rankings.
"A win is a win," he told reporters. "It's nice to have a trophy and be called a champion, but you don't get the benefits of it -- I guess. It's been an odd week, but that's just how it is.
"Now I'll have to go out and win a four-rounder, and I plan on doing that a few times."
Scott, four times a winner on the European Tour, has the chance this week to win a golf tournament over five days at La Costa.
The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the first of the year's four World Golf Championships events, starts on Wednesday at a venue where the Australian has shone in the past.
Since making his debut in the tournament in 2002, he has finished joint 17th, outright third and joint ninth and would have to be a good bet on his fourth appearance there.
In 2003, he lost to eventual winner Woods over 20 holes in the semi-finals at La Costa. Last year, he beat Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and compatriot Robert Allenby before going out to eventual losing finalist Davis Love III.
"You get to know the course a little better every time, and I think that's definitely an advantage on tour for some of the guys who have been coming to places for so long," said Scott.
"In match play, you've got to have it going on each day. There's not that much time to make up ground.
"I think a good way to play match play is fairways and greens," added the Australian, who is scheduled to face South Africa's Trevor Immelman in Wednesday's first round at La Costa.
"If you're playing like that pretty solid, it's going to wear the other guy out if he's not playing like that. If he is, then you're going to have a hell of a match."
For all his undoubted potential, however, Scott knows he needs to win a major title if he is to be ranked in the game's top tier.
"I think in the past I haven't specifically prepared for majors," he said. "I've been trying to establish myself as a player.
"When you're young and just coming on, you've got to play a lot and you never really get a chance to prepare just for a major because that's not your first real goal.
"It's nice to be in them and everything, but you're trying to get yourself set up so you've got a card for the next year. You're trying to win other tournaments.
"Now, though, I'm preparing more around getting ready for the majors, trying to have a much better showing."
Scott has produced just two top-10 major finishes, tying for ninth at the 2002 U.S. Masters and also at last year's U.S. PGA Championship.
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