37 | BAHAMAS & GOLD COAST, QLD | 2013 MASTERS CHAMPION
I was a little surprised the PGA Championship went to Quail Hollow. It’s almost a new Major venue … I guess it was a welcomed decision – for most of us we’re quite familiar with it from the Wells Fargo Championship each May, even though they’ve changed the course. But we’ll have some idea. It’s really interesting; unseen new holes and never-played new greens is a risky play and, like most great courses, the more you fiddle, the worse they tend to end up. I hope that’s not the case (at Quail Hollow). But then again it might be great, too. And it might play beautifully and I hope that’s the case and everyone’s in for a great week.
Whether you’re winning a first Major, or going for that second, or even a third – none of them are easy. I think it’s just getting harder and harder now. The competition is getting deeper and deeper. To win Majors, I not only have to show up with my game in good shape, but I have to find an advantage somewhere. My experience from being out here for a long time is something I can draw on. It’s one thing I have over some of the talented kids playing great golf. Understanding how to manage yourself and using that experience to my advantage is something I simply have to do.
I really feel I’ve had chances to win other Majors (Scott has four top-fives among seven top-10s since winning the 2013 Masters). I’ve been close and it hasn’t happened. But this is the evolution of my game and my career. Now, it’s another chapter and I can see it all trending in the right direction. Hopefully, everything can fall into place and Major No.2 comes along at Quail Hollow, if not at Royal Birkdale. It’d be nice if that opened the floodgates because they’re not going to stay open for too much longer [laughs].
Another Major victory will happen if I produce consistently good results. Sergio showed that at the Masters – it had to arrive eventually because he was playing well on the big stage over such a long period. But it gets more and more difficult as I approach 40 years old – I have to take matters into my own hands a little bit. That doesn’t mean I’ll go and fire at every pin of every Major, but I’ll have to find a way to get it done. When I won the Masters, I felt it wasn’t even a question – I was just going to win the Green Jacket. Even though I wasn’t vocal in my belief during the months leading up to Augusta in 2013, it was certainly there. You have to have your best game in place to win a Major, but I feel I’m getting back to playing at the top level.
“My putting can be as good as anyone
in the world on a good day or week”
If I putt as well as I have for most of this year during the rest of my career, I’m going to perform very well. But my short game has tons of room to improve as well. The easiest way for me to find shots in my game is around the greens. It’s hard for me to find shots out of my driver or irons, because they’re generally pretty good. Everyone focuses on my putting because it’s been an easy thing to focus on – it’s good or it’s bad. That dictates so much of my performance, but as I look deeper into things my short game also has had a big influence on my results. I’ve been more critical of my short game over my career than any other part of my game, because my putting can be as good as anyone in the world on a good day or week. It’s just been inconsistent. So far this year, the consistency in my putting has been good but the short game is still a bit erratic. The goal for the rest of my career would be to have a great short game and have it talked about as one of Adam Scott’s strengths.
I’m getting much better at shutting off. When I’m not away at a tournament, getting away from golf and not feeling guilty if I don’t practise is becoming easier. After the Masters, I didn’t touch a club for two weeks. I wouldn’t have ever done that in the past – there’s just no way. But with me rejigging my schedule to play in blocks of two or three tournaments this year, there’s enough work going in that those two weeks off won’t matter.
With my daughter, Bo Vera, now a toddler, it’s a whole different level of engagement with her. Obviously that’s a really fun part of my life and I don’t want to miss too much of that, being away so much. I’m trying to set the schedule to spend as much time with my family as I can. But I also need to prioritise golf so I can still be one of the best players in the world. More than ever, the level of performance required to do that is higher and higher.
Early on, fatherhood doesn’t have a huge impact on your game because you’re still learning, and dads can only do so much for a while. I’ve observed how my friends have handled fatherhood and playing professional golf, as most have had families before me. And, for most, it’s all been a really positive influence on them. They’ve embraced that stage of their lives and it’s having a really positive effect on the attitude they take to the course. People say it puts things into perspective. I’m just slowly adapting to the necessary changes in how I practise, my schedule and how we function as a family in the periods when we don’t get to see each other. Balancing that is a learning process and I’m trying to do the best I can at both. If I felt I couldn’t play golf at the highest level, I’d struggle to stay out here on tour. It’s challenging, but one thing you need is the support of your wife. I’m blessed to have that.
Really putting my life in blocks has worked well for me so far this year. My best results have been in some of the biggest events (T-9 at the Masters and T-6 at the Players). After a rest period, I’ll have a proper week of work and practice so I can get my game back to the level it needs to be. Then, the first tournament of a block might not be exactly what I want but by the end of that week I should be ready to go for the next event or two.
It’s the same as when I decided after 2011 that I wasn’t going to play 25 events every year. I thought, I’m just going to play 16 tournaments on the PGA Tour and I’m going to have to play good every time I tee it up. I have to commit to something and take a chance. As soon as I stopped playing so many tournaments, I was way happier. There was far less travel. Week to week living out of suitcases … I was over it after 11 years. Cutting it back was a really good thing – my mental state was improved and I performed way better on the course. It’s the same now, after I’ve played a block. I can wrap up the clubs and get away from it all. When it comes time to work again, I’m itching to get back to golf.