Australia’s only Masters champion Adam Scott has opened up on the difficulties he and his family have faced in dealing with the travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the direct effect it has had on his on-course performance.
Currently ranked 121st in the FedEx Cup standings, Scott needs a solid result at this week’s Wyndham Championship in North Carolina to maintain his record of qualifying for the FedEx Cup Playoffs every year since their inception.
He’ll need to feature somewhere near the top of the leaderboard to enhance his chances of progressing beyond next week’s Northern Trust tournament when the top 125 gets culled to just 70, but he admits that part of him that just wants the so-called ‘super season’ to be over.
When the PGA Tour suspended its season one round into the 2020 Players Championship last March, the Queenslander was ranked ninth in the world and eyeing a second Masters green jacket. He now sits at 43rd in the Official World Golf Ranking, his lowest position in more than three years.
Since returning to the tour 12 months ago after an extended stint back home in Australia, Scott has recorded just one top-10 finish in 20 appearances: a tie for 10th at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
As he moves between his family’s bases in the Bahamas and Switzerland to the US and remains unable to return home to Australia without quarantining, Scott concedes he didn’t take into full account the toll that would take on him personally and professionally.
He and wife Marie Kojzar welcomed a third child late last year and in a raw and honest press conference at the Wyndham Championship today, the 41-year-old spoke of how he yearns for the day he can introduce his parents, Phil and Pam, to their newest grandchild.
“It’s very frustrating when you live in one place with a policy and you’re operating also in another place with a different policy. That made it very difficult this year,” Scott admitted.
“The US and the UK is seemingly learning how to live with the virus now and it seems like making some progress. There’s probably still some ups and downs to come but seems like really moving forward. I find it frustrating that Australia is maybe lagging behind at the moment and have very strict measures over the virus.
“Basically means I’m not going home anytime soon. I’m more concerned now about getting to see my parents and them getting to see grandkids that they haven’t seen for a long time and some they’ve never met.
“Even recently I couldn’t return home from the Open Championship because the UK was on the red list for Switzerland and I had to go to Spain for a week just to get home. And that sounds nice, I know, Spain was absolutely fine, but I had been away seven weeks at that point and I really would have just liked to go home.”
Scott, who had to withdraw from the Zozo Championship after testing positive to COVID-19 last October, says his biggest mistake was not taking into account how such disruptions would impact his performance on the golf course.
Confident in the way he is playing if not the way he is scoring of late, Scott has adjusted his mindset as a way of unlocking a late-season surge.
“The biggest mistake I made was not lowering my expectations on the golf course at the start of the year,” said the 14-time PGA Tour winner.
“Thinking I was just going to play like a champion the whole time, even though nothing was really operating at the level I normally do. Very limited time with my coach. I ended up not even working with my trainer this year because it was just impossible to get together. A lot of time away from the family because I ended up coming in blocks to the States and that certainly had some effect, for sure.
“I’m trying to give myself a bit more of a mental break with my expectations at the moment. I’m actually playing OK but I think a little bit of fatigue has certainly been in there. I just need to let go a little bit.”
In a way to unlock a calmer mindset in search of better results, Scott took some practical steps at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Although not a prolific social media user – YouTube ‘rabbit holes’ are about the extent of it – Scott said he had to unplug from the noise of a world in tumult to be any chance of performing at his typically high standard.
“I had to turn the news off and I took every app off my phone and just had to block some noise out,” Scott revealed. “There’s just so much going on every week. We had another child this year, I was away from the family a lot and news was going crazy obviously with so many different things happening all around the world. I’m watching news in Australia and I’m watching news in Switzerland, watching news in the States. Not a lot of positive stuff was going on and most of it quite frustrating certainly regarding travel.
“Trying to find that balance is something that’s always evolving. That quiet head space is a good head space for me just to be calm and ready to play golf because we’re trying to play at the highest level. I neglected the mental side just for a little bit and the past few months I certainly feel like I’ve had a better head on my shoulders for it.
“I’m just going to go and play this tournament and I’d really like to try and get myself in contention and have a shot at winning something. That’s really what I’m thinking about.”