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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Columnists

Aussie Scott a very good golfer — and even better man

Published:
PALM HARBOR -

has missed the cut at the Tampa Bay Championship on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook resort. Friday, he made a 10 on the par-4 third hole. In another shocker, he apparently is dating a Hooters server. Man, who saw that coming?

Then there’s 2004 champion Vijay Singh, who isn’t talking to media after it was learned he’d used deer-antler spray that might contain a substance banned under the PGA’s anti-doping policy.

However, I did talk to a deer in the woods at Innisbrook. Her name was Daisy, and she said deer antlers are getting a bad reputation and that she is very, very upset about this. In fairness, she also lambasted the squirrel who recently chewed though a power line to a Tampa water treatment place. She then asked, “Did Daly make the cut?”

We now return to golf, very good golf — and an even better man: Adam Scott, who shot a 5-under 66 on Friday for 6 under overall, one stroke back of 36-hole leader Shawn Stefani.

Scott, 32, is seventh in the official world golf rankings. He has eight career PGA wins, more wins worldwide and has made many, many millions. But it’s what Scott hasn’t won that’s the story, as it is for every golfer ever pegged as the Next Big Thing, which Scott certainly once was.

There are more than a dozen golfers playing Innisbrook this week who’ve already won at least one major. Scott isn’t one of them. He is 0-for-47 at majors, a real threat to catch Sergio Garcia if Sergio simply gives up. Garcia, on the leader board here at 4 under, is 0-for-57.

Like Garcia, Scott has come close. In 2011, he finished tied for second at the Masters, beaten by a late birdie blizzard from winner Charl Schwartzel.

But it was last summer, at the Open Championship (alias The British Open), when Scott could have easily curled into a fetal ball, then and forever.

The man had a four-stroke lead with four holes left, practically had his name and mitts on the famed claret jug … and melted down … four bogeys in a row, fade to black, to lose by a single shot to Ernie Els.

Then an amazing thing happened: Scott didn’t run away and hide. He answered every media question, as he has ever since, politely and patiently. On a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being classy, Scott is like a 103.

“Well, I certainly got a lot of comments after the Open on the way I handled that, which was extremely nice,” Scott said. “But I was also, you know, honest with everything I said. And I tried to do my best at the time, but looking back on it still, it’s a highlight for the last year, the way I played. That’s the way I’ve dreamed of playing a major championship my whole life, and finally I got myself to that point.”

Scott is feeling it right now. He was third last week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. His short game is shining. But face it: Over the years, we’ve gone from “This guy is going to win a few majors” to “When is this guy going to win a major?”

Scott smiled.

“I think it’s the other way for me,” he said. “I think for a long time there, I didn’t really look like I was a major contender. And now I feel like I am. So I feel like it’s my time. It’s up to me to make it happen.

“Everyone’s path to success is different. I mean, (Phil) Mickelson knocked on the door for years and years and then the floodgates opened for him. I’ve gotten my game to the point where I feel like I’m right there. Hopefully I can get the first one and then we’ll see.”

The Masters is a month away. Adam Scott traveled to Augusta the other day to play a practice round with a good friend: Ernie Els.

“I’ve played so much golf with him and seen him do such incredible things,” Adam Scott said. “I think he could have won 10 majors. So … whether he won it or I helped him win a little, it doesn’t matter. Probably eased the pain a little that he was a closer friend of mine, and I could feel some happiness for him.”

Is this a fine fellow or what?

What? What’s that?

Look, for the last time, Daly missed the cut.

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