Adam Scott: On the Hazards of Trying to Make Perfect Swings

The new World No. 1 arrived at this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, home of the famous Colonial Country Club and site of five victories by the great Ben Hogan.

Adam Scott sat down for a session in the media center and he was pretty relaxed:

“It’s quite incredible really to sit here as the No. 1 golfer in the world.  I feel like I probably downplayed the rankings for the last few months.  Maybe I was trying to take some pressure off myself and just think about playing golf rather than other things that happen from it.”

“I think Monday morning when it was official maybe I had a better sense of the achievement in becoming No. 1.  It certainly means a lot to me and my family and the team of guys around me who spend a lot of time with me.  I’m certainly appreciative of their support and everyone else’s.  It’s an amazing accomplishment for me.”

“I’d just like to say that and I’m going to have to work pretty hard to stay on top, but part of coming here this week was to play as the No. 1 golfer in the world and enjoy it for at least a week, hopefully, and from there we’ll see what happens”

Colonial is known as a ball strikers course. With it’s tree-lined fairways and meandering layout, it requires the players to move the ball both ways and to be strategic in putting their tee shots in play. With Adam Scott’s length, it seemed a little curious that he would choose to play Colonial:

“Well, this is recognized by us as one of the best courses on Tour, so there are a lot of good things to say about this.  I’m going to enjoy the challenge this week.  I think it’s going to give me a good indication of where certain areas of my game are at as we head into a pretty important part of the year coming into the summer [Memorial next week, U.S. Open in June and British Open in July].”

“A lot of good golf will be played, and if I’m sharp with my wedges a hundred yards and in this week, which I’ve worked hard on this year, then I feel like I’m going to have a good week.”

One of the reasons that he came across as relaxed was that he took the week off last week. He expected to be able to get some quality work in, but Mother Nature had other ideas. But, to his surprise, it ended well. He managed to get out of his own way:

“It’s been an interesting week.  Weather wasn’t very good at home the last week, so a lot of practice was extremely windy and we had a storm, so I probably didn’t practice as hard as I normally do, but it was also quite nice to get a bit of a rest.  It’s a blessing in disguise.”

“I was getting a little frustrated at The Players because my swing and everything felt in good shape and I didn’t get four rounds out of it.  I got two rounds out of it.  Sometimes when you get out of your own way, it’s a good thing, and I think I did that last week.  I got to play a little over the last few days.  Things just felt a little easier than sometimes when it’s a grind.  I think I took it a bit easy on myself last week.”

And then he went into some detail about why he would choose to play Colonial; he was trying to get his rhythm back. Too much of the wrong kind of practice can put a damper on your playing consciousness:

“Yeah, I mean, this is a good course, but it’s not just good for preparation, it’s a great track and a great list of winners here.  But adding this to the schedule was important I felt for me.  Coming off of where I was, I spent a lot of time on the range working on things, and everything felt in a good place.  But I just didn’t take that playing rhythm out on the course every day at The Players [T38].”

“Sometimes you can get stuck on the range and try to take that to the course and try to make perfect swings all the time.  I think getting into playing rhythm is going to be good for me the next couple of weeks, and then a week off heading into the U.S. Open.”

“So, you know, the goal here is obviously to get in contention, but I have to try to find that nice rhythm on the course.”

Which is not to say that beating balls on the range is counterproductive. It is the foundation required to be able to play freely on the course. If you don’t put that time in in the right way, you risk strangling yourself with “trying,” as Scott mentions. Practice has to be an integrated whole of reps and practice rounds and tournament rounds.

And there is a wide breadth of talent out on Tour now because they have learned that balance. And Scott says everybody on Tour is well aware of how deep the talent pool has become:

Yeah, I’ve talked a little bit about it this year and the depth of talent out here and how difficult it is and how good everyone is.  How over the last few years I’ve seen the work ethic generally go up a lot.  Guys working a lot harder, guys a lot hungrier, seeing how far they can push themselves out here.  It’s not just based on a bit of talent.  It’s hard work ethic that goes into it, and I’ve seen a lot of guys improve out of sight.

The depth of talent is incredible, and it’s probably got to do with some kind of carry‑over effect Tiger has had on the game.  Kind of 15 years from when he first came out, and now we’re seeing guys in their early or mid‑20s who have put in a lot of work since they were young and aspiring to beat Tiger kind of paying off.  I think that’s why we’re seeing a lot more first‑time winners [eight so far this season].  It’s a lot more competitive, and it’s getting harder and harder to be out there.

And as a sort of post script to all of this discussion of the golf mastery process, Scott wants to win Colonial this week because it would allow him to complete the “Texas Slam.” He has already won Houston, Byron Nelson just down the freeway in Dallas and the Texas Open in San Antonio.

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