02/28/2016

When Adam Scott leaves the clubs in the closet for good, we’ll be forced to answer a confounding question. Can we deem his career a success?

On one hand, he was a prodigy, Australia’s rival to the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson paradigm. Out of context, Scott checks off all the boxes of a superstar. He won early and he won often. He owns a Green Jacket. He’s reached double digits in victories stateside and abroad. He reached No. 1 in the world at a time when golf had many challengers to the throne. And he had that aesthetically perfect swing. As handsome as Scott is—and you’ve surely heard this—his swing is that much prettier.

On the other hand, Scott has endured long win-less droughts fit with errant putting, close calls and disappointment. For a while, he was the sport’s great bust, having crossed into his 30’s without a major championship.

Scott rectified that record in 2013 when he won The Masters in a playoff over Angel Cabrera. But in many ways we’re still waiting for Scott’s time.

Now 35, there’s still hope we’ll get it.

Scott won the Honda Classic over the weekend at 9-under, one stroke better than Sergio Garcia. The two entered the final round tied. Scott shot even par, while Garcia needed a birdie at 18 to shoot a one-over 71. Neither score will cause a stir, but Scott’s measured performance is an impressive response to some Saturday struggles.

The Bear Trap lived up to its name all week, in particular during the third round. Scott fired not one, but two shots into the water on the par-three 15th and settled for a quadruple bogey. It was the lone, major blemish on his score card. The PGA National course played so difficult, that Scott remained in contention despite the four extra strokes.

The victory is noteworthy for several reasons, but in particular these two. This is Scott’s first PGA Tour win since the 2014 Colonial and only his third since the 2013 Masters. And two, it came with a standard putter.

Many ballyhooed Scott when he made the switch to the anchored putter early in his career. Those cries became louder when his lone major breakthrough came with the now-banned club (Scott also temporarily switched back to a normal putter last season before returning to the anchor for the Masters). There can be no complaints today. Scott has putted well all season, not just in the first tournament of the Florida swing.

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He finished T2 last weekend to raise some eyebrows. Scott also leads the tour in total strokes gained. He’s now legitimately a Masters contender, among many.

It’s unfair to say that an early season event played like a major. None can match the atmosphere or pressure associated with golf’s big four tournaments. Still, we can find elements of major championship play in non-major weekends. Such was the case at the Honda Classic. One of golf’s great grinders, Garcia, fought his way into contention. An up-and-comer, Justin Thomas, put together a few dominant rounds to scare the leaders.

But it was a true talent who won it all. Scott now has 12 PGA wins in his career.

Here’s betting there are more to come.

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