NORTON, Mass. — Holding the blue trophy up next to his Burberry plaid-trimmed tan shirt, Adam Scott looked like a kid. He had just won his first PGA Tour event, the Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC of Boston. The image is from nearly 17 years ago, September 1, 2003, and the victory moved the 23-year-old Australian up from 40th to 18th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
About seven months later, Scott would win again, but this time it would be the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. His ranking improved after that victory to No. 12. From that point forward, Scott would be a presence at big-time events and a fixture among the game’s elite players. His crowning achievement came nine years later when he became the first Australian to win the Masters by defeating Angel Cabrera in a playoff in 2013.
Now 40, Adam Scott is back at TPC Boston this week. He begins the 2020 FedEx Cup Playoffs at No. 36 on the point list thanks to a win at Riviera in February at the Genesis Invitational. He will easily qualify for next week’s BMW Championship in Chicago, but he has some work to do if he wants to make it to the Tour Championship at East Lake.
“Obviously in this run the next few weeks, a lot can happen, and given everything that’s gone on this year, I’m kind of pleased with my position, actually,” Scott said on Tuesday.
After returning to Australia as the coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic, he took a wait-and-see approach before returning to the United States and the PGA Tour. His first event since the PGA Tour restarted in June was at the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park two weeks ago. Scott finished T-22.
Adam Scott after winning the 2003 Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Before his virtual press conference, Scott was busy practicing on the putting green. His swing has always delivered effortless-looking power and been one of the most admired among his peers, but inconsistent putting has been a constant frustration. Back in 2003, he used a traditional-length Scotty Cameron Newport putter. These days, he puts his right hand in a pencil-grip halfway down a broomstick-style putter. He holds the top of the club in his left hand, inches away from his sternum, then rocks his shoulders and lets the massive putter head swing through the ball.
He did not wear a hat throughout most of the session, and a few streaks of gray could be seen.
If Adam Scott could give his younger self some advice, what would it be?
“I liked a lot of the things that that guy did at the time. He was on a good path,” Scott said with a smile after some thought. “I was kind of on that rise up, being a young pro, but then once you kind of get near the top 10 in the world, it’s a real different level to maintain and push all the way up there.”
Scott briefly attended UNLV and was coached by Butch Harmon as a young pro. At that time, Harmon also coached Tiger Woods.
Adam Scott practices ahead of the 2020 Northern Trust at TPC Boston. (David Dusek/Golfweek)
“I think, you know, looking back on it now, it’s hard to remember exactly the influence and attention and intimidation that Tiger drew to golf tournaments, but it was significant to every player who was out here,” Scott said. “I think if anyone was playing at that time, and they were being honest, there’s no doubt he made a big difference. I think I would have told myself to kind of come up with a strategy to block out exactly what Tiger was doing in making us all feel slightly inferior to him.”
That was the old Tiger. On Monday, Woods was spotted playing a practice round at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York on Monday, site of next month’s U.S. Open. Justin Thomas accompanied him. As Scott can attest, back in the early 2000s, Tiger would never have gone on a scouting mission with a potential rival in the weeks leading up to a major.
Tiger Woods, like and Adam Scott, has changed, but the Aussie still has the same goals 17 years later.
“I never really had Jack Nicklaus’s major record pinned up on my bedroom wall or anything, but I always felt like a real legend of the game kind of was a five-time major champion, and I still feel that’s relevant,” he said. “There can only be so many legends of the game. You have to draw the line somewhere, and that’s what I think about in my head and my goals, and I feel like I want to win multiple majors.”
Scott will get a chance at a second major in about a month, but for now, his focus is on the playoffs. Winning a FedEx Cup would undoubtedly strengthen his case for being a legend.