ADAM Scott cheerfully admitted he didn’t bring his best golf to Royal Melbourne yesterday.
“I made a lot of errors,” he said.
But when you’re near enough to the best in the world at what you do, such quibbles are always relative – and neither Scott nor the thousands who came to watch him play were one bit worried about that at the end of a dramatic day.
The popular Queenslander defended his Masters title by two shots and declared it had been a lot of fun, while the fans who would have happily settled for the triumphant procession it could easily have been were rewarded with something much more engrossing.
Scott had to demonstrate more than his prodigious talent, which is a given in any case. More to the point, he was able to show he possesses the mental strength to cope when things start to go pear-shaped, as they did when he conceded the lead to hard-charging American star Matt Kuchar after a disastrous encounter with a bunker at the 14th.
He had gone from four ahead at the start of the day to two behind.
You didn’t need a particularly long memory for visions of his four-shot meltdown at last year’s British Open to materialise, but it was the last thing on his mind, it seems.
Yes, he was “a little shaken” but he knew the next hole would present an opportunity to claw back some ground, he duly and coolly seized it, and then watched as Kuchar imploded while his only other challenger, Vijay Singh, wobbled erratically through the entire round.
It was a Kiplingesque last half-hour: if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs … if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you …
Scott’s serenity in a crisis is just another element in one of the most impressive all-round packages currently on offer in Australian sport.
He’s got it all really. Aside from his talent, he has presence, character, sportsmanship, resilience and a willingness to do everything he can to polish golf’s image.
If he can win another major or two, achieve the world No 1 ranking and hold it for a substantial period, it is not out of the question he could match his idol, Greg Norman, in which case a nickname that he confesses has already failed to stick once – “Baby Shark” – might be revived permanently.
He has certainly peaked at a good time for Australian sport, which is unusually light on for international stars in all sports _ certainly among the men.
Among others, cricket really has only Michael Clarke in the upper echelon, tennis is past the Lleyton Hewitt era and can only hope for the best with Bernard Tomic, cycling’s Cadel Evans has raced his last Tour de France, swimming’s James Magnussen needs a credibility remake, F1 driver Mark Webber is one race from retiring and our best boxer Daniel Geale has lost his world title.
Scott’s US Masters win was more than enough to guarantee him being acknowledged as Australia’s sportsman of the year, and he might yet finish off with what was being referred to yesterday as the Scotty Slam.
That’s the Australian PGA and the Masters, which he has already won, and the World Cup and the Open, for which he is at short odds.
“You can’t win ’em all,” he said. But then he seemed to reconsider. “Come back next week and watch Jase (his playing partner Jason Day) and me because we will win the World Cup.”
Whether they do that or not, you don’t need to be a golf fan to accept that invitation. Adam Scott is as good as it gets in Australian sport right now.