- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Adam Scott is this generation's Fred Couples—he makes it look so easy you can never tell how hard he's trying. Dressed like a model, with the looks of a movie star, his movements set to a soundtrack of squealing female fans and ringing cash registers, Scott glides around a golf course with such grace he conjures comparisons with Fred Astaire, not Fred Funk.
At age 27 he has won seven international events and five times on the PGA Tour, notably the 2004 Players Championship, which was followed two months later by another victory, at the Booz Allen Classic. Even so, questions remain as to just how much he wants it. Asked this question directly, Scott says, "I want to win. Badly. It is what drives me." And yet during this brief answer his gaze drifts from the eyes of his inquisitor to an oversized TV in his hotel room, on which he is idly monitoring a college basketball game. Maybe this is a sign of modesty, or residual shyness from his quiet upbringing in Brisbane on Australia's Gold Coast. But if Scott can't look a reporter in the eye while expressing his desire, how is he supposed to strike fear into the hearts of the best golfers in the world?
No one knows Scott better than his longtime coach and confidant, Butch Harmon, and he, too, is impatient for his prize pupil to develop the flintiness that has defined so many great champions. "He has a tremendous work ethic," says Harmon. "No one in golf is working harder to get better." At the start of the year Harmon made headlines by crowing that among golf's young talents, Scott is the player most likely to challenge Tiger Woods. The racy quotes were less an honest assessment, however, than a ploy to motivate Scott. "I wanted to light a fire under him," says Harmon. "It's time for him to show the world how good he is."
Scott, like everyone else, knows how this can be done. "I have to play better in the majors, simple as that," he says.
Scott has been a can't-miss kid at least since 2001, when he won his first European tour event at age 20. The victory at the Players seemed to signal his arrival as a superstar, but in the years since he has been very good but not quite good enough. Last season he won only once worldwide, in Houston, where he prevailed despite hitting his tee shot into the water on the 72nd hole. More to the point, he was a nonfactor at all the major championships, as he has been throughout his career. (In 27 majors Scott has only four top 10s.)
But dig a little deeper and 2007 was hardly a lost year, as Scott learned plenty from assorted growing pains. Last season the onetime boy wonder embraced full-blown adulthood, taking control of his business affairs, moving into his first house, and rethinking and recommitting to his practice and workout routines. The stunning final-round 61 to roar to victory at the Qatar Masters in January was confirmation that all the change was worth it, but Scott is no longer satisfied rolling up victories in B-list tournaments.
"Everything we're doing is geared toward the Masters," says Harmon. "For Adam, it's all about Augusta."
SCOTT BEGAN preparing for the Masters in February, with a spring training of sorts in Oceanside, Calif., where he tuned up his game and equipment at the cutting-edge Titleist Performance Institute. With his triumph in Qatar only a week old, Scott radiated good cheer. In press-conference settings he chooses his words carefully, often suppressing a dry sense of humor. In the relaxed environment of the Performance Institute he was good for nonstop giggles. His personal trainer, David Darbyshire, dumped some electrolyte powder into Scott's bottled water. "We're trying to do all our drugs now, before the testing begins," Scott deadpanned. "After that we'll just smoke our divots."
For this season Scott has retained Darbyshire, a fixture around the Tour, on an exclusive contract, and they are religious about working out twice a day, every day. Their first scheduled day off in 2008 is the Monday after the Masters. A few weeks ago Scott took a surfing vacation on the Maldives with his girlfriend, Marie Kojzar, and he insisted that Darbyshire tag along.
"In the past I would work with a trainer at tournaments, but on my off weeks I would work out on my own," says Scott. "It's not the same. I would get tighter, and my swing would change a bit without me even knowing it. Then I'd come out on Tour and work with a trainer again, and my body and my swing wouldn't feel right."