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Inside the Ropes: Heat is on Scott after Open meltdown

The SportsXchange

Following his meltdown at the Open Championship, Adam Scott remains among the best players who have never won a major championship.

However, if you heard caddie Steve Williams talking after his boss captured the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last year, you would have thought Scott had just won one of the Grand Slam events.

"This is the best win of my career," said Williams, who had been unceremoniously sacked by Tiger Woods earlier in the year. "A lot has been said this week, so to back it up is an incredible feeling.

"I've caddied for 33 years, won 145 times and this is the most satisfying win of my career."

This from a man who was on the bag for 13 of Woods' 14 major titles, and after a bit of give-and-take during the week, it was even more gratifying for Williams that his former boss lagged behind in 37th place.

Williams later apologized after being blasted by other caddies, players and the media for seemingly taking so much credit, deserved or not, but the situation remains on simmer.

There was much speculation late in round three about what the atmosphere would be had Woods landed in the final group with Scott in the last round of the Open Championship three weeks ago at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but it didn't happen.

And many reporters couldn't wait to interview Williams had Scott held on to win before carding bogeys on the last four holes to lose by one stroke to Ernie Els in one of the most monumental collapses in major golf history.

Scott is back on the South Course at Firestone Course this week to defend his title in the Bridgestone, which Woods has won a record seven times, often with help from Williams.

However, the bigger question is how Scott will respond after the biggest disappointment of his career.

"Hopefully I can let it go really quick and get on with what I plan to do next week and get ready for my next tournament," Scott said at Royal Lytham. "We'll see. I don't know, I've never really been in this position, so I'll have to wait and see.

"I've got a lot to play for with the World Golf Championship event and a major (the PGA Championship) coming right up. I should take advantage of this form. This is what I should be doing.

" ... Look, I've got to take something out of it. I'm playing great. I just didn't make up for a few errors that I made. I couldn't make the putts to make up for the errors on the last few holes."

No matter what he does in his career from here, the Aussie always will be linked with Jean Van de Velde in the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie, Arnold Palmer in the 1966 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club and his idol Greg Norman in the 1996 Masters.

It's already being debated that Scott's crash-and-burn equals or surpasses those famous major collapses.

"You can compare it, sure," said Scott, who has won 19 times around the world. "I don't know what else you can make of it. It wasn't a good finish to the golf tournament. I don't know what else to say to that. Generally, I close golf tournaments very well. But this one I've let slip through and that's going to hurt. But I've got to bounce back.

" ... Greg was my hero when I was a kid, and I thought he was a great role model, how he handled himself in victory and defeat. He set a good example for us.

"It's tough. ... I can't justify anything that I've done out there. I didn't finish the tournament well today. But next time ... I'm sure there will be a next time, and I can do a better job of it.

" ... But I'm a positive guy; I'm optimistic and I want to take all the good stuff that I did this week and use that for the next time I'm out on the course."

Els, even though he has captured four majors in his career, has been in Scott's shoes several times in his career and talked openly about it after winning at Royal Lytham.

The Big Easy has finished second in the Grand Slam events six times and third on five occasions over the course of his career, and he often beat himself up over his major failures.

"I really feel for my buddy, Scottie, I really do," Els said with the Claret Jug in hand. "I've been there before. I've blown majors before and golf tournaments before, and I just hope he doesn't take it as hard as I did.

"I think Adam is a little bit different than I am. I did see him afterward in the scorer's hut and he seemed OK. I really said to him, 'I'm sorry how things turned out.' I told him that I've been there many times and you've just got to bounce back quickly. Don't let this thing linger.

"So, yeah, I feel for him. But thankfully he's young enough. He's 32 years old. He's got the next 10 years that he can win more than I've won. I've won four (majors) now; I think he can win more than that."

Scott can begin the healing process with a strong title defense this week, even though it's only a mini-major.

COMING UP

PGA TOUR: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, Thursday through Sunday.

TV: Thursday and Friday, 2-6 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday, noon-1:30 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel, and 2-6 p.m. EDT on CBS.

LAST YEAR: Adam Scott led virtually all the way, opening with an 8-under-par 62 and winning by four strokes over Rickie Fowler and Luke Donald, but the Aussie was overshadowed by his caddie, Steve Williams. Having been cut loose by Tiger Woods earlier in the year after toting the bag for 13 of his 14 major championships, Williams claimed that this was "the most satisfying win of my career." Part of that was that Woods was pretty much an afterthought, finishing in a tie for 37th. Scott claimed the biggest victory of his career by going the last 24 holes without a bogey.

PGA TOUR: Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno, Nevada, Thursday through Sunday.

TV: Thursday and Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 6:30-9:30 EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.

LAST YEAR: Scott Piercy squandered a three-stroke lead on the final round of the back nine but then holed a seven-foot putt for par on the final hole to claim his first PGA Tour victory, by one stroke over Pat Perez. One day after posting a course-record 11-under-par 61, Piercy padded his lead with three birdies on the front nine before finishing with eight pars and a bogey on the 14th hole. Perez pulled even by playing the first 13 holes in a bogey-free 5-under before falling back when he missed an eight-foot par putt on the 17th hole.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., Friday through Sunday.

TV: Friday, noon-1:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 4-6 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.

LAST YEAR: Jay Haas two-putted from 30 feet on the final hole to record a one-stroke victory over Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry and Peter Senior. Haas, who won nine times on the PGA Tour, captured his 15th title on the Champions Tour but the first since the 2009 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Senior was tied for the 36-hole lead with John Huston, who closed with a 3-over-par 73, while the Aussie could manage only a 70. That allowed Haas, who carded three birdies in the last seven holes, to steal away with the title after posting a 68, his third consecutive round in the 60s.

LPGA TOUR: Jamie Farr Toledo Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, Aug. 9-12.

TV: Thursday and Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday, 1-6 p.m. EDT, and Sunday, 6-11 a.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.

LAST TIME: The tournament, which was founded in 1984, returns from a one-year hiatus from the LPGA Tour after regrouping financially. Na Yeon Choi of South Korea opened with an 8-under par 64 in 2010 and seemed to be on her way to a wire-to-wire victory two years ago. However, after closing with a 71, she needed a three-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to turn back In-Kyung Kim of South Korea, Christina Kim and Song-Hee Kim of South Korea.

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