The timeless advice from Peter Thomson, the memories of Greg Norman’s 1993 victory and a driver setup that made him a Masters champion. This is the formula that Adam Scott believes can finally deliver the Open win he craves above all others.
As the next generation of Aussies announced their arrival with wins around the world in recent weeks, Scott is adamant that he can continue to play at a high level well into his 40s, due to celebrate his 41st birthday with a 10.09am tee-time on Friday.
Three times Scott has finished inside the top five at The Open – including a heartbreaking runner-up finish in 2012 – but admitted that it took time to adjust to the vagaries of links golf.
When he made his Open Championship debut as a 20-year-old in 2000 at St Andrews, no less, Scott had the good fortune to be accompanied by five-time Open champion Peter Thomson and said the Australian golf icon pulled no punches in his appraisal.
“Peter Thomson walked a couple of my first ever practice rounds at The Open, so that was an experience, that’s for sure,” Scott reflected.
“He was quite brutal in his assessment of how I was playing. From a five-time champion, you have to listen and understand that he knows what he’s talking about.
“Certainly he encouraged me to use the ground where I can. He put it quite bluntly.
“When you’re only playing the links one week a year, it takes a while to really figure it out. It’s certainly very different from how we usually play golf. Even coming over here last week, it had been two years since we were at Portrush and that was the last time I really played links.
“Just getting comfortable changing your ball flight, you’re trying to use the ground and the course.
“It helps you a lot if you can do that, and that’s very different to what we do week in and week out.”
If a guided tour of St Andrews from Thomson wasn’t enough to connect Scott to the game’s oldest championship, his idol, Greg Norman, is the last Australian to claim the claret jug, coincidentally on the links that Scott will play this week at Royal St George’s.
A 13-year-old who had only just moved to the Gold Coast with his family in 1993, Norman’s Sunday 64 would light a fire within Scott that would propel him to the very top of world golf… even if he didn’t see every shot Norman played that day.
“I remember getting up and watching the end. Falling asleep for little bits here and there because it was probably early in the morning,” Scott said.
“It was the most impactful time. I was really into the golf at that point. I’d stopped playing other sports and I was golf nuts, and it was right around that time that that happened.
“Strong images of the whole round, that final round of Greg’s really. It was quite inspiring.
“It was the perfect victory and timing for me, looking back on it, and wanting to just be out there doing what Greg did.”
When Norman won 28 years ago it was on the back of a peerless display with the driver, a club that has uncharacteristically been a failing of Scott’s this year, ranking 185th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour and 144th in strokes gained: off the tee.
But a return to the driver shaft he used to win the Masters in 2013 and a new Titleist TSi4 head has convinced Scott that it can be a strength again at Royal St George’s.
“It is normally a strong part of my game, and when it is good it filters down through the bag,” Scott said of his proficiency with the driver.
“I did some work with the guys at Titleist here in the UK when I arrived a couple of weeks ago and they’ve got me squared away with a new driver and I’m very happy about that.
“I’m excited to drive it a bit better this week and try and keep it in the short grass.
“The shaft is basically the same shaft I was using when I won the Masters and the period before. I used that Graphite Design shaft for about four or five years back then and certainly it’s like my comfort zone with a shaft.
“Nice kind of familiar feelings putting that back in.”
As for finally getting his hands on the claret jug, Scott concedes that the close call he experienced in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes has made his hunger to win The Open all the more intense.
“If there is one event I’d like to win before my career is out, it would be The Open,” Scott added.
“I felt like I had a hand on the jug once, and it was a good feeling while it lasted. I’d like to kind of have two on there.
“I’m not really stacking the pressure on myself this week, but it would be a lovely story for an Aussie to follow in Greg’s footsteps here.”