The late golf writer Dan Jenkins once claimed the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday.
Phil Scott couldn’t disagree more. The Masters, in his eyes, begins on the front nine on the Sunday before the tournament.
Since 2014, the year after his son became the first Australian to win the green jacket, Scott Snr has kicked off Masters week by playing 18 holes with his son at Augusta National on the Sunday prior. Past champions are allowed to invite a guest on that day.
It’s one of the many rituals that makes the Masters special. But for two years, the pandemic forced Augusta National to put that tradition on ice until normalcy – well, normalcy for past champions – returned this year.
At 11am on Sunday, Scott Snr addressed his golf ball on the members tee on the first hole at Augusta National. One smooth swing later and the ball sailed through the air with a slight draw to left side of the fairway.
“Nice shot,” said world No.36 Scott, while walking up from the Masters tee about 70 yards back of where his old man just hit from. Off they went. A father-son tradition unlike any other.
They were followed soon after by the group of two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and his annual Sunday playing partner Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state who served under then-President George W Bush. But the Scotts didn’t notice; they were consumed by their first hit at Augusta together since the 2019 Masters.
Scott navigated his way around Augusta National like you’d expect of a former Masters champion who has been in good form. A pair of top-10s in the Middle East to begin 2022, as well as two more top-10s on the PGA Tour since his beginning his US schedule in February, have the 41-year-old feeling pretty good about the 2022 Masters.
“He looked good; he’s swinging it well and a kind of calmness and confidence washes over Adam when he gets to Augusta these days,” Scott Snr told Australian Golf Digest on Sunday afternoon.
Scott Snr played okay himself. Not as good as he’d like, but okay given he doesn’t play that much golf anymore.
“I didn’t write the scores down but I think I shot about 8-over-par because I had two blowout holes and a few bogeys from missing a couple of putts,” he said.
He played good on the holes that matter, though. “I hit it to about 10 feet on No.12,” Scott Snr said of the famous par 3. “I missed the putt though,” he adds through laughter.
But the score doesn’t matter for Scott Snr. It’s about the experience. A PGA club pro who was able to watch his son live out his dream of becoming a Major champion – at a course that had taunted Australians for almost 80 years – is the real treat.
Just don’t ask Scott Snr to describe the experience.
“It’s just indescribable … I mean, playing Augusta National is special for any golfer,” he said. “It’s bucket-list stuff. But to play with your son? Who is a Masters champion? It’s impossible, mate. I don’t have words for it. It’s so special.”
And it was a special Sunday for the pair, but Monday means business for Scott. It’s the first day of practice rounds at Augusta as he prepares to chase a second Major championship victory.
Scott is one of six Australians in the field for the 2022 Masters, joined at Augusta by world No.6 Cam Smith, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert, Min Woo Lee and Cam Davis.