Adam Scott Survives Colonial and Jason Dufner for the Texas Slam

Colonial Country Club gave us our money’s worth today!

Adam Scott won the 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, but we wouldn’t know it until he won a three-hole playoff with Jason Dufner. And we wouldn’t know that there would be a playoff until the very end of the final round.

With a tightly packed field to begin with — 49 players within 5 shots of the lead — it seemed that ten different guys held the lead or a share of the lead at one time or another. Some were very brief, meteoric rises, others like Scott and Dufner seemed inevitable.

Still others like Nicholas Thompson and Freddie Jacobson didn’t get to the lead but they did get to the top of the leaderboard finishing T3. Neither was even in the conversation Saturday night. In their success we can better appreciate — and almost touch in a real way — the possibility resident in all of us. Isn’t the PGA Tour a wonderful thing? 

And isn’t Colonial Country Club great? Throw 124 of the best players in the world into a four-day hopper, add enough wind to be a factor and a little over an hour lightning delay on Saturday and this amazing concoction of hopes and dreams and grit and talent burbles to the surface in a completely unpredictable way.

Adam Scott summed up Colonial in a more traditional way:

“Yeah, it was a challenge for me.  I think it tested my patience a little bit.  And it demands a lot out of my game.”

“And I came into this week looking to try to find some rhythm on the golf course.  And it may not be the easiest one for me, because I don’t get a free swing at drivers all day long, which is what I like to do to find a nice rhythm.”

“But it’s testing my game for where it needs to be, I think, in the coming months.  A lot of irons off tees, chasing it down fairways, and potentially that could hold me in good shape as we look forward to the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.  It’s all stuff you can store up and hopefully draw on in experience the next couple of months.”

Scott got off to a great start birdieing the first two holes, bogeying the third and then making two more birdies to get to 3-under on the day through six. So far so good…until he double-bogeyed the 9th:

“Yeah, I played such a nice opening eight holes and then to double 9, I felt like I hit a good tee shot and it was just off line and got in a bad spot.  And didn’t recover great.  And three‑putted.  I was just throwing shots away, and usually you can’t afford to do that out here.”

So what was his plan for the back nine? Don’t worry, be happy:

“I felt like if I played a really solid back nine, which I had a couple of times this week, you never know.  After the 11th there’s no really easy chances out there, you’re going to have to create a chance to make something happen.”

And he did. Not only did he birdie 11, but he got 12 and 14 too. And then it was just hang on to the clubhouse and hope his hour head start would put some pressure on those who still had to get to the finish line without stumbling:

“It’s not an easy course to just birdie in.  I felt like if I could just post the number, and obviously Jason did beforehand, and if I could get it in the clubhouse in front of some of the people behind me, I’d be in with a good chance.  A lot of risks where the pins were today [for those trying to close].”

He summed up his great week:

“Yeah, it was a great week, I mean, no matter what.  And, you know, it’s another experience, learning experience on how golf is, to get off to such a poor start on Thursday, and kind of claw my way back day‑to‑day in this tournament.  A lot of good golf out there.  It’s so satisfying in so many ways to get it done.  And today was just another way — an example of that.”

“So to win here is a real honor.  It’s a great track.  It was a test for me to scale back and to stay patient and just pick my way around the golf course, and very satisfying to come out on top today.”

He did have some mental obstacles to deal with during the week, the principle one being trying to live up to his newly-minted No. 1 ranking:

“I guess it’s a new experience.  It was certainly on my mind.  I was having to speak about it a lot this week, leading up to teeing off.  And maybe added a little pressure for myself, trying to play like a No.1.”

“But I think the important thing was I realized that didn’t mean playing perfect, and I certainly didn’t play perfect all week, I made a few errors.  But the way you come back and get it done, and I felt like I certainly played like one of the best players in the world out there on the back nine.”

“I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to have to go and win every week to stay No.1.”

He will certainly enjoy some sort of respite from that pressure with this victory. And with this victory, he becomes the first player to win the “Texas Slam:” Nelson, Colonial, Shell Houston Open and the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. There are 14 great players who have three of them, but only Scott as all four.

One of the best lessons he took away from the week was his comeback after a sloppy first round that had him hovering around the cut line mid-Friday. He sucked it up and started taking the chances he needed to survive to the weekend. And with that survival came confidence and freedom that helped him all the way through the playoff:

“I was 4‑over after nine holes on Thursday.  So even though midway through Friday I was on the cut, I was playing better than the others.  And moving in the right direction.  And I just knew that I had to hit some good shots on the back nine Friday.”

“And sometimes when you do hit the good shots playing on the cut line, because you’re a little edgy about what’s going to happen over those holes, you can take some confidence; maybe as much as hitting a nice wedge into the last on a playoff hole, because again you’re in that situation, do or die, you go home if you don’t get good shots on Friday.  That might have given me a little confidence going into the weekend to free it up and try and play some good golf around here.”

Where that was most apparent in his mind was on his wedges into the 18th on the first and third playoff holes. He and Dufner both gave the left pin close to the water a lot of leeway the first time through, but they both dialed it in and were substantially closer on the third. Dufner missed and Scott made.

Lesson learned that with freedom, you can take on your worst fears.

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