Adam Scott reached a world ranking of number one for the first time in May, and ever since he has been doing his best to stick to instructions from Greg Norman, to “run with it” by Robin Barwick
Adam Scott reached a world ranking of number one for the first time in May, and ever since he has been doing his best to stick to instructions from Greg Norman, to “run with it”. Scott spoke exclusively to Robin Barwick as he prepares for the 2014 Open Championship
Being ranked number one in the Official World Golf Ranking comes with increasing kudos, as the heritage of the World Ranking evolves. When Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros and Fred Couples were young, the World Ranking did not exist and all they dreamt of was winning majors. Langer became the first official world number one in 1986, and ever since, young golfers have grown up with their eyes on both the majors and the number one ranking.
The number one ranking does not match the glory or stature of a major triumph – there is no question of that – but its significance among the laurels of golfing achievement grows.
When Adam Scott was a golfing protégé growing up on Australia’s Gold Coast in the 1990s, his childhood hero Greg Norman was number one for most of that era.
“Greg was my idol and everything he did was what I wanted to do,” recalls Scott, now 33, who has enjoyed unstinting support from Norman as Scott’s own professional career has flourished. “I wanted to win tournaments and major championships. I wanted to be like him, play like him and be number one like him.
“When I got to number one I spoke to my Dad, and he said it was 20 years ago that I told him I was going to be the number one player in the world, back when I was 13,” adds Scott, who has been ranked number one in the world since May 19, when he ousted the injured Tiger Woods. “I don’t remember saying that, but I must have had some confidence going at the time!”
Other than from his dad Phil, himself a PGA professional, one of the first messages of congratulation Scott received on reaching number one was from Norman, who has twice captained Scott in the International team for the Presidents Cup, in 2009 and 2011.
“Greg has encouraged me to take this position and run with it,” says Scott, “a lot like he did. Greg said, ‘To reach number one is a huge accomplishment, now stay there for the next 10 years!’ I am taking it one week at a time.
“I try to downplay most things, but having reached number one, I definitely did not want to give it up after just one week,” adds Scott, who promptly entered the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial CC in Texas, eventually defeating Jason Dufner at the third play-off hole. “Reaching number one in the world was a pretty incredible feeling, and then to win that week was just so special. That was a week I will never forget.
“It took a few years of hard work to reach this position, but the workload to stay at number one might be even more than the workload that got me there in the first place.
“Now I am trying to embrace it, and trying to enjoy being world number one. I don’t know how long it will last and so you need to enjoy it while you are there. My performances over the past two years, which have got me to number one, only bring good memories and good feelings.”
The major mission
Scott grew up dreaming of winning the Open Championship just like Norman, of winning the Masters that cruelly eluded his idol, and of being world number one, just like the ‘Great White Shark’. So far, Scott has achieved two out of those three ambitions, and those who recall the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham will know that he should have achieved all three. On that occasion, Scott’s putter went cold as he dropped four shots over the last four holes to lose to Ernie Els by one.
Scott’s next bid for the Claret Jug is at Royal Liverpool next week, where he played well in the 2006 Open, finishing in a tie for 8th, which was a career-best in the Open at the time. Scott’s finish should have been even better too, had he not sent his second shot at the last hole in the final round out of bounds. He left Royal Liverpool that Sunday with a triple bogey darkening his mood.
“That was the driest I have ever seen an Open course,” recalls Scott. “I was really disappointed to triple-bogey the last hole. I was going along really nicely and then I hit my second shot out of bounds, having tried to go for the green from the whispy rough. I had to drop in the rough and I pretty much made a meal out of it. So that Open ended on a sour note, after I had thought I was going to have a really great finish.
“I am looking forward to playing the Open at Royal Liverpool again, and hopefully the conditions will be a little less extreme, and then we will see a different way to play the golf course.”
Norman has gone as far as to claim Scott could win more majors than any Australian in the history of the game, which would mean surpassing Peter Thomson’s haul of five – all of which were Open Championships.
“Greg strongly believes in my ability and has always pushed me to achieve,” says Scott. “Slowly but surely, maybe I’m getting there, but I don’t know how you put a number on how many majors you can win. To win five would be a dream career. Not many guys have been able to do that. Other than Tiger, Nick Faldo is the only guy to have more than five since 1980. It’s a good goal to have. If I keep focused, I believe I’ve got more majors in me. How many more, I don’t know.”
Adam Scott is an international ambassador for Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes-Benz is global sponsor of the Masters, patron of the Open Championship and official car of the PGA Championship