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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- In early 2012, Adam Scott announced that he would play a reduced schedule. He was ready for a Tiger Woods-like season, during which he played 15-20 events around the world.
If he was ever going to get to the level of Woods or Rory McIlroy and win majors, he said, he couldn't go "running off playing every week chasing world ranking points or whatever you're playing for."
|Adam Scott entered the final round of the Barclays six shots off the lead. He managed to vault up the leaderboard with a bogey-free 66 at Liberty National.|
I was skeptical.
Was Scott ready for a schedule like Tiger's? Most players need full schedules of 20-25 events to stay sharp and qualify for the majors and the WGC events.
Scott had come into his own after switching to a long putter shortly before the 2011 Masters Tournament, at which he finished in a tie for second. Then, with Steve Williams on his bag, he won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Scott was a nice money earner, but hadn't his chance to be great passed? He was supposed to challenge Tiger back when he was 23 and the Players Championship winner. This idea of a reduced schedule seemed to come too late.
Yet in 2013, the 33-year-old Queensland, Australia, native has settled my suspicions of his scheduling decisions with a victory in the Masters in April, top-5 finishes in the Open Championship and the PGA Championship and now a victory in the Barclays, the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
His formula works for him, and now he's on a course for the consistency and large-scale success that's mostly eluded him since he turned pro in 2000.
"The last couple of years my focus shifted a bit, and I changed my schedule and played a lot less tournaments, so I think I've got less opportunity to win and focused on the bigger tournaments, which are not easy to win; not that any others are," he said.
"I'm developing my game into being more consistent, performing in the big ones, and now trying to adapt that to be a winner on a more frequent basis is what I'm working toward."
With the win at Liberty National, his 10th career PGA Tour title, Scott is a serious candidate now for the PGA Tour player of the year. Tiger has five victories, but Scott's Masters and a possible FedEx Cup playoffs crown could make him a formidable challenger to the 10-time player of the year winner.
"To win the first playoff event really sets you up for a great run, and I'm excited about the next few weeks," Scott said on Sunday evening. "I'm looking forward to getting into East Lake, hopefully having a chance to be a FedEx champion."
Sunday at the Barclays personified, in many ways, the predicament that Scott faced at the beginning of the year.
No one had been as good as him in the majors since 2011, but at the Masters, all the attention was focused on Woods and McIlroy.
Yet Scott would be the one to come out victorious for his first major championship.
At the Barclays, he started the final round 6 shots back of 54-hole co-leaders Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland, who were at 12-under. You couldn't be sure what the streaky Woodland would do on Sunday, but there was a very good chance that the ultra-consistent Kuchar would control the reins. But he was out of contention after an opening-nine 40.
Then, Justin Rose, Tiger and Woodland all had their chances on the 72nd hole to match Scott's 11-under total, but they couldn't prevail.
"I'm pretty shocked," Scott said. "There were so many guys out there with a chance and really didn't think I had much of a chance.
"If you hang around the lead long enough, you're going to win some, you're going to lose some, and this one went my way, so I'm really fortunate that it did."
Scott has hung around now for more than a dozen years on tour. But he's proven over the past several months that his best years are in front of him. After the Masters, he said that he wanted that victory to be a springboard for more consistent visits to the winner's circle.
"I've really been trying hard and trying hard not to get frustrated when it has not happened when I've been in contention," he said. "So this does mean a lot. To have multiple wins [in a season] on the PGA Tour is a pretty good accomplishment. There aren't too many guys doing it regularly, and I'm not, either, but I'd like to."
For Scott, multiple wins in a PGA Tour season is not an overly ambitious goal. Nor is winning the FedEx Cup playoffs or the player of the year honors. He might have been shocked by what transpired Sunday, but another few good weeks in the playoffs and he shouldn't be surprised if many start to consider him the best player in the world.