[PHOTO: Getty Images]

For the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, Adam Scott, a two-time winner of the event, did something he has not had to do since he turned professional more than 20 years ago.

“I wrote a letter to the tournament directors and and made sure that I was legitimately getting an invite,” the 2013 Masters champion said during a media call on Wednesday.

Scott finished 72nd on the FedEx Cup rankings last year, outside the top 50 who were guaranteed starts into the $US20 million Signature events on the PGA Tour in 2024. The Genesis is the third Signature tournament this year. Scott was given a sponsor’s invitation to the most recent big event, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. But when it came to his favourite stop on the PGA Tour, he was not in. Texting the tournament host, 15-time major winner Tiger Woods, was not an option.

Scott went old-school.

“I did it how I thought was right, but if if writing to Tiger works, let me know,” Scott said with a laugh.

So, why was Scott so desperate to get back to the Genesis? History, firstly. Scott won a rain-shortened Riviera in 2005 and again officially in 2020 immediately before COVID-19. He has seven top-10s from 16 starts at the Los Angeles course.

“It demands good ball striking and for most of my career I feel I’ve been in the category of a good ball-striker,” Scott said. “I think it’s really helpful if you’re hitting your irons well, because these greens are very, very tricky and putting from a long way away is tough.”

Secondly, the ultra-exclusive, Pacific Palisades parkland layout reminds him of courses in Australia. Riviera has kikuyu grass, found commonly on Australian courses, everywhere but its poa annua greens.

“I have feelings like I’m in Australia when I play the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th holes. The eucalyptus trees kind of smell like it does in Australia, the grass is similar, the weather can be similar as well, nice weather here in LA. You know, I just have this certain level of comfort. There’s more than just purely a great golf course for me.”

Riviera is also an important stop in Scott’s pre-Masters schedule each year. He tied for 10th at Riviera in the build-up to winning the 2013 Masters. The iron play that Riviera demands of players is similar to the second-shot examination at Augusta National. But preparing for Augusta National was made more difficult when he wasn’t into the 2024 signature events, meaning he wouldn’t face the stiffest competition before the first major. The Genesis has been an invitational event since 2020, and this year welcomes the cream of the crop on the PGA Tour: a 70-player field with a cut for the top 50.

Scott said he’s been planning for Augusta since January 1, and playing at Riviera was vital. He finished equal eighth at last week’s WM Phoenix Open and tied for 20th at Pebble Beach. That followed a top-10 at the Dubai Desert Classic last month.

“Honestly, it’s January 1,” he said. “I guess first from planning a schedule, to which boxes you need to tick and that influences where you need to play, how much work you need to do to think you’re ready to win the Masters. I’ve had that in the forefront of my mind since January 1 and so far, it’s been going well. The game feels in good shape.

“The Florida Swing [for top players the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship] is important to play well through that because that’s really the last solid hit-out before the Masters.”

Looking ahead, one event you won’t likely find on Scott’s schedule is the Olympic Games in Paris in August. With Cameron Smith on LIV Golf and plummeting on the world rankings due to the league not receiving points, the second Australian male to join Jason Day is up in the air. It could be Smith or Min Woo Lee, but Scott’s ranking could be high enough in June to be eligible when the cut-off falls.

“Yeah, [golf at the Olympics is] not really my priority,” Scott said. “I’m an older guy now with family and I spend a lot of time away from them. I don’t think I’ll be there.”

Scott has been consistent in his belief that golf at the Olympics was not a goal as he did not grow up with it being an Olympic sport. He skipped 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and was not eligible for the delayed 2021 games in Tokyo.

“Yeah, that’s kind of been my stance the whole time and my mind hasn’t really changed on that. Maybe I’ll have a crack at [the Olympics in] Brisbane in 2032,” he said with a laugh.

By then, Scott will be 52.