How Up-and-Down Weekend at Bay Hill Affects Adam Scott's Chances at 2014 Masters

Mike DudurichContributor IMarch 23, 2014

Adam Scott realizes he let a big one get away on Sunday.
Adam Scott realizes he let a big one get away on Sunday.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Now that's not the way you'd expect a major champion to close out a golf tournament he'd been leading for 66 holes.

Adam Scott disappointed not only his legion of fans who have patiently waited for him to turn into the superstar he seems destined to be, but himself as well.

What happened Sunday afternoon in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational was not catastrophic by any means. Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, shot a scraggly round of 76 and could not call up any magic from his anchored putting stroke.

As a result, he failed to put himself in position to move into the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings by the Masters and blew a chance to win a greatly coveted title at Bay Hill.

What's more bothersome about Sunday afternoon, more than the lousy putting and a driver that seemed incapable of finding fairway, was the fact that this is the third significant tournament Scott has let get away in this manner.

As a reminder:

1) The 2012 British Open appeared to be Scott's first major championship victory. As he stepped on the 15th tee in the final round, Scott had a four-shot lead. When he got to the 18th green, his lead was gone, having been handed on a silver platter to Ernie Els.

“I can’t justify anything I did out there today,” Scott was quoted in the New York Times afterward. “I let a great chance slip through my fingers today, and I know it.”

2) Scott celebrated his Masters triumph last year by staying in his native Australia after the PGA Tour season and competing in the Australian Masters, PGA and Open. He won the first of those two and started the day four shots ahead in the Open.

That lead was one as he started down the 18th fairway, but he couldn't hold it and was beaten by Rory McIlroy.

And then came Sunday's collapse, which actually began Saturday when he frittered away most of what had been a seven-shot lead.

He didn't hit enough fairways, didn't hit enough precise iron shots, but far outweighing that was the fact that he putted about as badly as he could have on Arnold Palmer's fast and tricky greens.

In the first round, it took Scott only 23 putts to get around. Sunday, it took him 32, including three on the par-five 16th hole where he had a 20-foot putt for eagle. Had he made that, he would have tied a badly choking Matt Every for the lead. But that didn't happen.

“If nothing else,” he was quoted in a story by Rex Hoggard, “it’s a good reminder on how much putting practice I need to do before going to the Masters and just how important it is. If I think back to last year, I made every putt you expect to in that last round and ultimately that’s what gave me the chance to win.”

Scott's meltdown Sunday shouldn't be viewed with the mass hysteria that accompanied the 2012 collapse. There was great concern Scott would be scarred for a long time, but he came back to win the Masters in less than a year.

And he's posted five top-25s since the start of this season and played spectacularly for the first two days in Orlando this week. I don't expect much, if any, problem at Augusta National in three weeks as a result of the final round at Bay Hill.

Adam Scott wasn't having fun in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Sunday.
Adam Scott wasn't having fun in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Sunday.John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Scott's not playing in the Texas Valero Open or the Shell Houston Open, the last two PGA Tour events before the Masters. But that doesn't mean he won't be getting ready in other ways, starting with a Monday-Tuesday excursion to Augusta National and then back home to find the key to what escaped him Sunday.

Scott's still going to be on the short list of favorites when he tees it up in an attempt to win back-to-back green jackets. Would he have been the absolute favorite had he won Sunday?

Yes, I think he would have. But the loss certainly doesn't make him irrelevant. Will he think about how he let this one get away?

How could he not? But he's a professional, a very good one who's going to win more than just one major championship.

As noted earlier, Scott rebounded fairly well from two earlier choke jobs, and there's no reason he can't do it again.