After Open collapse, Scott likes being the chaser
GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — It’s a funny thing, Adam Scott likes this spot even better.
A year ago, Scott took a four-shot lead to the final round of the British Open, only to throw away the claret jug with four straight bogeys at the end. It was a crushing loss, one that earned the Aussie a place among the greatest chokes in major championship history.
Well, the sting was softened greatly in April when Scott finally won his first major title with a nerve-racking playoff win over Angel Cabrera at the Masters, removing any doubts about whether he could deal with the pressure of a high-stakes game.
And, now, Scott goes to the final round at Muirfield on Sunday as the chaser rather than the chasee.
Scott shot a 1-under 70 on Saturday, quietly keeping himself in contention for his second major title, quietly giving himself a chance to finally get his name on one of golf’s most venerable awards — just one line lower than he knows it should’ve been.
“It’s a good feeling to sit here in this position. Absolutely,” Scott said. “It’s completely different. I go out there tomorrow not carrying the weight of the lead or not having won a major. It’s a different feeling. Hopefully I can play enough quality shots to give myself chances to be in the hunt at the end.”
On a crusty course that is playing extremely tough despite the un-Scottish-like weather — three straight days of warm, sunny conditions, with a forecast for more of the same on Sunday — Scott has yet to shoot in the 60s.
But he’s played as solidly as anyone, avoiding the sort of major mistakes that can ruin the entire tournament on one hole.
Scott opened on par with a 71, followed up with a decent-enough 72, and kept himself right in the mix with his best score yet Saturday — a 70 that totaled out to a nice 213 — just three strokes behind leader Lee Westwood, with only two other guys between Scott and the top spot on the board.
Scott was trying not to get too far ahead of himself.
“It’s a long way off,” he said. “The course, it can turn around on you in a heartbeat out there, if you’re not careful. I’ll be treading cautiously.”
While Scott was praised for the gracious way he handled his horrendous defeat at Lytham, it’s obvious the pain of that moment has stuck with him. Not even a green jacket can totally erase the sting.
“I haven’t thought about the entirety of it at all, I thought it’s best not to,” he said. “Just take a couple of bits that I wanted to and leave it as an experience. The way I remember it is only a great week. I’m done with that.”
It helps having Steve Williams on the bag.
The veteran caddie was there with Tiger Woods for 13 of his major titles. After they had a nasty falling out, Williams hooked up with Scott and proved to be an invaluable resource helping him get his first.
“His experience is there in these events where par is a good score,” Scott said. “He prides himself on keeping his man at par or better, no matter how hard the course is. And we play it in a way according to that. So we’re right around the mark. At times when you want to push, he’s there to pull the reins in, if need be. He knows it’s 72 holes and it can’t be won on the sixth on Friday. He’s got the big picture in mind when it comes to the 72-hole outcome.”
Now, it’s time to go back for seconds.
“It would be a fairy tale if that were to happen,” he said. “But they do occasionally happen.”