Newly anointed No. 1 player in the world Adam Scott played like it at the Crowne Plaza International when he made a gutsy approach to eliminate Jason Dufner in a sudden-death playoff.
The come-from-behind victory makes you wonder if Scott has finally turned the corner toward accepting his role as the best player in golf.
It was not so much the fact that he won, but how he won, that was so impressive.
Early in the tournament, it looked like Scott would succumb to bogeyitis, as he went over par on four of his last nine holes. He got back on track on Rounds 2 and 3, posting a 68 and a 66 to get him in the running.
On the final day, he was three under when he took a double bogey on nine and slid three strokes behind the leader. That was when his winning attitude kicked into gear, as he birdied three holes on the back nine and finished with another 66 to tie Dufner at nine under par.
On the third hole of the playoff, Dufner mishit his approach and landed about 40 feet from the cup. Scott saw the opening and decided to go for the pin, striping his ball within seven feet of the cup.
It was a gutsy move since the hole was cut within 20 feet of a slope leading to water. It was a winner’s move, the move of a No. 1 player.
And it is the kind of thing we should get used to from the 33-year-old Australian who has confidently made his way up the ranks of the game’s best.
Across the pond, Rory McIlroy was making a play for prominence with a stunning victory of his own at the BMW PGA Championship. McIlroy pushed himself into sixth place in the world but has a ways to go before he can reclaim the No. 1 position.
Now that Tiger Woods is out of the way nursing yet another injury, Scott has a chance to remain atop the field for the foreseeable future.
Behind him are some solid names with good resumes, including Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Henrik Stenson. All are excellent players who could threaten Scott’s status if he doesn’t continue to play well.
It may have been his first win of the season, but he has been threatening to win for a while, notching four top-10 finishes in eight events.
He also is currently No. 1 in all-around ranking on the tour, bolstered by the fifth position in scoring average, the fourth in birdie average, the 18th in strokes gained-putting and the 12th in total driving.
Dufner made an off-handed, comical observation after losing to Scott: “It's tough to beat him. He's a great player. It's tough to concentrate, he's so good looking, too.”
Although he hadn’t won since the Barclays in 2013, Scott has looked good for a long time. He has won 11 times on the PGA tour and 23 times worldwide, most notably winning the 2013 Masters.
Scott brings a calm and cool attitude to the course that has obviously helped him to his current position. The win at Crowne will assuredly boost his confidence going forward.
With Tiger out due to injury and Phil Mickelson unable to get his game together, the No. 1 ranking looked to be up for grabs. Until now.
Sure, Scott sort of slid into the position after Tiger went down, but his play at the Crowne—an apt name for Scott to take the reigning position—signaled the arrival of a tough competitor who did not succumb to the pressure.
In fact, he acknowledged the effects of his new ranking when he said the following:
Maybe [I] added a little pressure for myself, trying to play like a No. 1. But I think the important thing was I realized that didn't mean playing perfect, and I certainly didn't play perfect all week. But the way you come back and get it done, and I felt like I certainly played like one of the best players in the world out there on the back nine.
The great ones crave the pressure and beat it back. Scott looks ready to accept that fact and move forward.
Scott needs to make that winning attitude as much a part of his game as his long straight drives and smooth putting stroke, and he will be primed to win for a long time.
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