GULLANE, Scotland — Of all the words of consolation and advice for Adam Scott after his meltdown at last year’s British Open, the most inspirational came from Tom Watson.
During a practice round for the Australian Open in December, Watson waited seven holes before addressing what happened to Scott at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s.
“He said that he let one slip early in his career, and he said he would never let that happen again,” Scott recalled on Wednesday, back at the British Open. “He would just be tough and want it so badly, and sometimes maybe that has to happen for you to realize that.”
The message clearly hit home with Scott – the Australian went out and won the very next major, the Masters Tournament in April after a playoff with Angel Cabrera.
“It was a completely different situation at Augusta. But I felt like I played tough, especially in the playoff, because no one’s going to give you a major,” Scott said.
Scott’s collapse at Lytham, where he bogeyed his last four holes to let slip a four-shot lead and give away the claret jug to Ernie Els, was one of the most memorable at an Open. It didn’t quite have the drama of Jean Van de Velde at Carnoustie in 1999 but it wasn’t far off.
Looking back, it might just be the defining moment of his career.
“No matter how you react, it’s hard to console somebody who feels so terrible about it. But I think it’s all the good advice and guidance that I’ve been given on how to handle playing a professional sport or handle just being a person and having a decent perspective on all that,” Scott said.
“And somehow that turned into me taking Lytham as a positive, and just pushing me harder to try to get across the line to win a major.”
The fourth-ranked Scott is one of the favorites and prominent names at the British Open at Muirfield starting today, but he’s been trying to keep a low profile this week. It’s nothing to do with his golf, more to do with Australia’s woes in sport.
After the Wallabies’ 2-1 defeat in the recent rugby test series against the British and Irish Lions, Australia’s cricket team began the Ashes against England by losing the first test.
“It’s a tough time being an Aussie over here at the moment, to be honest with you. I move very quietly around town,” Scott said, with a smile. “I’d love to get in here this week,” he added, “and maybe spur our cricket team along to leveling the test series.”