By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Over the last three years, Adam Scott has racked up six top-10 finishes in 11 major championship starts, highlighted - of course - by that very special victory at the Masters in April, the first for an Australian-born player.
Just before the start of the 95th PGA Championship here at Oak Hill Country Club, Scott stated that he firmly believes his best golf is in front of him. And, based on his recent results, it would seem foolish not to believe him.
"It has to be the best golf of my career, really," said Scott, who also finished in a tie for third at the Open Championship a few weeks back. "If it's not, then I won't achieve anything that I want. You know, I kind of figured that out over the last couple years as I made changes and saw improvement. There was a clear path for me going forward, and then it's quite easy to see what you have to do when your plan starts working out. I don't think about 8-10 years, because that's too long to plan. I think about probably just a week at a time."
Taking it a week at a time puts the focus solely on this week at Oak Hill. Scott would love nothing more than to end the 2013 major season with bookend victories, which would make the Aussie the first player with multiple major wins in a single season since Padraig Harrington turned the trick in 2008 at the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
A win here would also count as a small measure of redemption. After bouncing back at the Masters from that difficult finish - bogeys on each of his final four holes - in the Open Championship that looked to be his to win in 2012, Scott enters this PGA Championship after another crushing Open defeat.
This time around at Muirfield might not have seemed as gut wrenching for those on the outside looking in. But, for Scott it was actually more devastating than in 2012. Again, he bogeyed every hole in a four-hole span on the back nine, but unlike 2012, it wasn't the last four. Still, it cost him the Claret Jug.
"I think I was probably more disappointed at The Open this year than last," Scott admitted. "I worked really hard to get myself in a position with nine holes to go, because I got off to a slow start on Sunday, and I felt that I had a bit of momentum going my way, and to kind of in the space of about 45 minutes - to go from leading to not even having a chance on the 16th tee was more disappointing, probably more so than at Lytham."
As was the case at Lytham, Scott says this one at Muirfield is also behind him and he's looking full steam ahead to Oak Hill.
When the PGA Championship was played at Oak Hill in 2003, Scott finished in a tie for 23rd. Not too shabby, but he was a different player then - not the player he's become, the one who regularly contends in majors.
"Ten years is a long time and I've played a lot of golf and I feel like a completely different golfer," Scott said. "I had forgotten that I was even in the mix, but I think it was one of the first majors where I kind of went into the weekend thinking, 'Oh, if I have a good weekend, I could actually win this.' And I probably battled around on the weekend to finish 23rd. But experience counts for a lot, obviously.
"So many things are different between now and 10 years ago, that you just evolve as a golfer and mature, hopefully, as a golfer and get better and that's what I've always tried to do and all of those things have added up to me being in the last few years a much more consistent performer than 10 years ago."
Scott is typically known as one of the better drivers of the golf ball, an asset that will come in handy at the tight, tree-lined Oak Hill, which is sporting a healthy graduated rough that gets more and more brutal the further the player strays offline.
Since he's always seemingly well positioned off the tee, it's no surprise that Scott is also among the best on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation.
"There's not really much to dislike that I've seen so far [of Oak Hill]," Scott said. "It's presented beautifully. It looks like as far as my game goes, that you've got to drive it in the fairway. It's not necessarily a lot of drivers, but still, the demand is there off the tee for a chance to score. The rough looks pretty long, and I just don't know with these kind of small, circular greens whether you're going to get good opportunities to hit it on the green out of the rough too often."
Now that Scott has major victory No. 1 in his pocket, he's looking forward to the chance to add more.
"I thought I was playing good before I won the Masters, and really over the last couple years, I built a mindset that I was good enough to be a major champion, and it didn't really matter that I wasn't," he said. "That wasn't affecting the way I played. You've got to fool yourself a little bit sometimes. So winning, obviously, was extremely satisfying and confirmed that I can do it. But you know, I've just wanted to keep my game going in the same direction in those same things, so it obviously helps.
"It's gotten better and I've backed it up with some decent play and a good performance in The Open, which is important, because you don't want to win the Masters and expectations go through the roof and you play poorly," he explained. "You've got to keep pushing, and I've been really conscious to do that this year so that I can get myself here this week feeling like I'm as good a chance to win as anyone, and can keep the momentum that I've built the last couple years going."
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