His short game has been his saviour but Adam Scott knows he must overcome recent struggles with his ball-striking to contend at this week’s Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champions course and its infamous ‘Bear Trap’.
But he didn’t shy away from the struggles he is experiencing with his ball-striking of late, an aspect of his game that has long been considered among the very elite of professional golf.
Scott’s tie for 10th at the Farmers Insurance Open is his only top 10 finish since his victory at the Genesis Invitational more than a year ago and insists those results would be even worse if not for his short game efficiency.
“My short game is fantastic at the moment, the best consistently it’s ever been. Which is fortunate because otherwise I’d be selling hot dogs, not playing golf,” said Scott, who is 23rd in putting average on Tour this season.
“The challenge from tee to green here certainly separates the ball-striking for the week, which at times for my career has been a strength for me. I think it gives me a little edge on the field. But I certainly can’t say that coming into this week.
“Anyone could look at my stats and see that’s not really my strong suit right now.
“With the golf swing and ball-striking being kind of the strength of my game for my entire career, I believe it can come back fairly quickly with a little bit of work on the range the next few weeks.”
Coming off a tie for 48th at the Players Championship last week, Scott knows that players will have to absorb some blows dished out by PGA National on their way to the top of the leaderboard.
Rather than expecting stress-free navigation of a course that is abundant with water hazards and floods the golfer with fear from the start of the three-hole stretch known as the ‘Bear Trap’, Scott says it is imperative to roll with the punches rather than feeling down for the count.
“After the experience of playing these Florida golf courses for 20 years, it’s inevitable you’re going to hit one in the water, especially around here when it’s windy,” Scott added.
“You’re going to have to accept it and do the best you can to get past that hole and rebuild.
“When you’re playing good, you can bounce back from one trip to the water.
“You have to be very prepared mentally to have fun. That might be the answer for anyone doing well this week.
“As much as you need to physically play well out here, you need to be really mentally prepared because it’s going to beat you up even playing well. You’re going to have to be able to withstand a few blows out there, and if you can do that, you can still have fun. If you can’t, it’s going to become a very tough week.
“It is a different kind of fun, but it’s that fun challenge.
“I might try and think about that the next 24, 48 hours and have some fun come Thursday.”
Scott is one of five Aussies at PGA National this week including Lucas Herbert, the Victorian making his first appearance in a stand-alone PGA TOUR tournament by virtue of a sponsor exemption.
The European Tour is in Kenya this week where Scott Hend and Maverick Antcliff will seek to contend in the Magical Kenya Open and there is a strong Australian representation at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open including former PGA TOUR winners Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley and Mark Hensby.
Round 1 tee-times (AEDT):
PGA National (Champion course), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
10.36pm Matt Jones, Adam Hadwin, Kelly Kraft
10.47pm* Cameron Percy, DJ Trahan, Scott Harrington
10.58pm* Adam Scott, Joaquin Niemann, Ian Poulter
3.42am* Cameron Davis, Scott Brown, Bo Hoag
5.21am Lucas Herbert, Rafael Campos, Marcelo Rozo
Defending champion: Sungjae Im
Past Aussie winners: Stuart Appleby (1997), Adam Scott (2016)
Top Aussie prediction: Cameron Percy
TV schedule: Live 5am-9am Friday, Saturday; Live 4am-9am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503.
Magical Kenya Open
Karen CC, Nairobi, Kenya
4.20pm* Scott Hend, Adrian Otaegui, Jordan Smith
9pm* Maverick Antcliff, Joakim Lagergren, Matthieu Pavon
Defending champion: Guido Migliozzi (2019)
Past Aussie winners: Nil
Top Aussie prediction: Maverick Antcliff
TV schedule: Live 9pm-2am Thursday, Friday on Fox Sports 503; Live 8.30pm-1am Saturday on Fox Sports 507; Live 8.30pm-1am Sunday on Fox Sports 503.
Korn Ferry Tour
Chitimacha Louisiana Open
Le Triomphe G&CC, Broussard, Louisiana
11.40pm Mark Hensby, Zecheng Dou, José de Jesús Rodríguez
12.20am* Steven Alker, Max McGreevy, Nicolas Echavarria
12.40am Rhein Gibson, Andrew Svoboda, Brad Hopfinger
12.50am Nick Voke, Vince India, Chip McDaniel
1am Ryan Ruffels, Paul Haley II, Max Greyserman
4.40am* Jamie Arnold, Dan McCarthy, Wes Roach
5am Brett Drewitt, Mito Pereira, Billy Kennerly
5.10am Robert Allenby, Ben Martin, Nick Hardy
5.10am* Curtis Luck, Curtis Thompson, Roberto Díaz
5.20am* Aaron Baddeley, Trey Mullinax, Scott Gutschewski
Defending champion: Vince Covello (2019)
Past Aussie winners: Gavin Coles (2008)
Top Aussie prediction: Aaron Baddeley