Adam Scott Ends American Title Drought in Style at Riviera
Adam Scott became the third Australian to win on the PGA Tour this season when he held off a world-class field to secure the Genesis Invitational at Riviera. He follows Cameron Smith Smith and Marc Leishman into the winners’ circle and completes a remarkable career revival. It comes after his victory in the Australian PGA Championship in December and is his first success on the PGA Tour for four years.
He admits that he was motivated by a heartbreaking defeat in the Presidents Cup. Scott was a member of the International team, beaten by the USA at Royal Melbourne in an encounter that they should have won.
“I've seen it before with some guys off the back of an incredible Presidents Cup experience where there is pressure out on the golf course and guys really learning and elevating their games and then putting that into practice the next time they're in a pressure situation,” Scott said. “I know I did that back in 2003, we played in December in South Africa and I remember leading The Players going into Sunday [in 2004] but using that pressure situation playing with Ernie Els in South Africa as a way to know that I can handle it.”
Scott claimed the Australian PGA Championship, a European Tour co-sanctioned event, the next week. It was a victory but not the wanted he really wanted. So the 39-year-old took his family on holiday in Australia.
But he watched Smith winning the Sony Open on TV and did the same as Leishman won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines a couple of weeks later.
“Watching Leishman… I was feeling like, okay, I'm starting to miss out being out there. So that was good to get those feelings… and I knew I would be definitely ready for a return soon,” Scott said. “Seeing Cam and Marc win was certainly motivation for me to come out and make sure I'm not the one lagging behind.”
Scott won at Riviera Country Club in 2005, but it is deemed unofficial given the event was shortened to 36 holes and a playoff due to bad weather. He was runner-up twice and seventh just a year ago.
On Thursday, he shot one over par to sit eight shots back. On Friday, he promptly shot 64. He began the final round on 10 under par, tied for the lead with Rory McIlroy, and birdied two of his opening three holes to go out in front alone. Then he missed a three-foot par putt on the fourth hole. He followed that up with a terrible double-bogey on the fifth and he no longer led the tournament. McIlkroy had a seven on the same hole as his challenge came to an end.
He birdied the sixth hole to get back on track. A run of six pars followed before a birdie on the 13th gave him a two-shot cushion on top. Another bogey came at the 15th. He had hit his approach from the fairway into a fried egg bunker lie then knifed his third over the green.
“It was in a horrible position then. I stood there and I wanted to maybe bump it into the fringe, but realistically it was going to be 45 feet past probably and I thought, well, you can maybe win the tournament if you hit a great flop shot here,” Scott said. “So I thought I might as well just go for it. I had a little bit of that kind of mindset not just today but the whole week of not careless, but "what have I got to lose" kind of thing going, give myself a good chance to get back in the winner's circle on the PGA TOUR.”
He flopped it inside five -feet, made his bogey and moved on. A critical wedge and 10-foot putt on the 17th pushed his lead to two again leaving him with a stress-free finish and a 14th official PGA TOUR win. He joined Bruce Crampton with the third-most wins by Australians on TOUR behind Greg Norman’s 20 and Jim Ferrier’s 18. Now, he has his sights on those numbers, despite coming up on his 40th birthday this July.
Matt Kuchar, Singh Kang and Scott Brown tied for second on nine under, with Hideki Matsuyama and Mcilroy among those in a logjam for fifth place. McIlroy had high hopes, especially after a birdie at the first, but he was unable to recover from a seven at the fifth hole and eventually signed for a 73.
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