Scott crumbles under Every pressure
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
ADAM SCOTT may well be The Masters champion, but he has developed a most unfortunate habit of throwing away leads in the final round.
The big Australian did it in the 2012 Open Championship, then repeated it at the 2013 Open. Next, he let Rory McIlroy beat him to win the Australian Open and, at the weekend, he succumbed to Matt Every at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. In the end, he didn't even finished runner-up.
There are those who will shrug off Scott's collapse at Bay Hill as a blip, but let's not forget that he was seven shots clear after 36 holes. Let's not forget either that his scores got progressively worse. He started with a 62, followed it with a 68, then a 71 and, finally, a 76.
World number ones don't do that kind of thing, and they certainly don't do it on a regular basis. Victory at Bay Hill would have seen Scott arrive at Augusta as best player in the world - according to the rankings at any rate. Such an elevation would sit uncomfortably with the critics who say that nobody using a broomhandle putter belongs in such exalted status. And, certainly, nobody whose game can collapse in such spectacular fashion can truly be regarded as the best there is.
Scott took a three-shot lead into the final round, but that advantage was wiped out by the time he reached the turn. His 76 saw him finish 11 under par - he was 10 under after the opening round -two shots behind Every, who shot a final round of 70.
Scott’s playing partner Keegan Bradley had looked out of contention after dropping three shots in the first three holes and carding further bogeys on the 10th and 11th, but birdied the 12th, 16th and 17th and narrowly missed from 30ft for another on the last which would have forced a play-off.
A tearful Every, who grew up nearby and used to attend the tournament as a spectator, said: “It’s really cool. I have had a lot of looks at wins and I kept telling myself maybe it’s going to come somewhere special. I still can’t believe I won.“It’s hard, it’s tough man. You just never know if it’s going to happen. You get there [in contention] so many times and it’s nice to get it done.”
Every had been seven shots behind Scott after the first round, nine adrift at halfway and four behind going into the final round, but will now get to compete alongside the defending champion by making his Masters debut at Augusta next month.
“I didn’t putt well at all today,” said Scott, who took 32 putts in the final round. “I was just a little out of sorts for whatever reason. If nothing else it’s a good reminder on how much putting practice I need to do before going to the Masters and just how important it is. If I think back tolast year, I made every putt that you expect to in that last round and ultimately that’s what gave me the chance to win.”
Scott bogeyed the first after twice finding sand, while it was a hooked drive into the water on the third which cost him another shot. The 33-year-old steadied the ship with a chip to four feet to set up a birdie on the par-five fourth, but then bogeyed the seventh after his tee shotplugged in a greenside bunker.
Scott had held the outright lead since the early stages of his opening round on Thursday, but that was no longer the case when Every recovered from a bogey on the eighth with birdies at the ninth, 10th and 12th to take the lead. Another birdie on the 13th took Every two ahead and the 30-year-old found himself three clear of the pack when Scott bogeyed the 14th. Scott’stee shot came up well short of the green but he elected to putt through the fringe, running his birdie attempt seven feet past the hole and missing the return.
A massive swing in momentum looked to be on the cards on the 16th when Every pushed his tee shot into the trees and failed to find the fairway with his escape shot, eventually making a bogey six. In the group behind, Scott found the green in two with a towering iron shot as Every watched, only to three-putt for par to remain two behind.
Every found a greenside bunker on the 17th but saved par after his recovery hit the pin and somehow stayed out. Scott’s challenge ended when he failed to save par from the same bunker but Bradley fired a superb approach to 10ft and holed the putt for a birdie.
A bogey from Every on the 18th left Bradley needing a birdie to force extra holes, but his long-range attempt slid just past the hole.
Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson shared fifth place, alongside the remarkable American Erik Compton. Remarkable? The man has endured a heart transplant, not once, but twice, and has to take a cocktail of drugs just to stay alive, but here he was proving that he belongs in world-class company. Compton shows what the human spirit is capable of achieving.
Image Credit - Kevin Diss/www.kevindiss.com
Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]
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