- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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ARDMORE, Pa. -- Adam Scott welcomes the difficulties of being grouped with Tiger Woods for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open, figuring he'll need to cope with the game's No. 1 player at some point.
The reigning Masters champion, ranked No. 3 in the world, will play with Woods and No. 2 Rory McIlroy during the first rounds of the 113th Open at Merion Golf Club's East Course.
"Absolutely, (there's going to be) some energy and electricity, playing with him at any time there always is," Scott said Monday morning while waiting out a weather delay. "And given the hype around this grouping and being a major, it's going to be an intense couple of days.
"But essentially that's what we're playing for. That's a pairing you'd hope for on Sunday, also, because if you don't enjoy that kind of stuff it's going to be tough for you to have success out here. At some point, if you're playing well and winning a tournament, you're going to have to try and beat him. And that's what you want to be out here for. That's why you spend the hours and test yourself. And I'm looking forward to that Thursday and Friday."
Overnight rain kept Scott and the players getting ready for the tournament off the course until 11 a.m.
Scott lamented the lack of practice time on the course due to weather. He arrived on Friday when the course was hammered with 3 1/2 inches of rain due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea. The course was closed Saturday, but Scott got in an 18-hole practice round Sunday.
"Ultimately it's frustrating,'' Scott said. "I'm lucky I came up about three weeks ago and played a couple of rounds, so I have seen the course a fair bit. And I've got a fairly good understanding. But I'm a big believer, especially for here, that you have to understand the course very well. You'd like to feel like you're a local going out there. A lot of blind shots off tees. The fairways move a lot where you can't see it. So you have to have a really good understanding, a good visual of what's out there when you can't see it. I think for me that's the frustrating part at the moment is I'm not getting to hit enough shots off those tees before we'll start Thursday.''
Scott, who captured his first major championship with a playoff victory over Angel Cabrera at Augusta National in April, has played just twice since then, finishing tied for 19th at the Players Championship and tied for 13th at the Memorial. The limited schedule is by design, a plan Scott went to two years ago in order to be better prepared for the big events. Scott, 32, had just three top-10s in major championships and no top-5s through 2010.
"My lack of success and 10 years of playing badly,'' he said about his switch in philosophy. "I'm a learner, but not a fast one, obviously. The frustration was really high in 2010. I was playing well, not getting results that I wanted. I was frustrated with a lot of things because of that. I'd had enough, essentially, of not playing well enough in the big events when I felt I could. So I had to do something different. You have to after a while if it's not working. If it is broke, you've got to fix it."
Starting in 2011, Scott has had five top-10s in majors, including a crushing runner-up to Ernie Els at the Open Championship last summer. His tie for 15th last year at the Olympic Club was his best finish in a U.S. Open.
This is not the first time Scott has been part of a 1-2-3 grouping. The USGA did the same thing in 2008 at Torrey Pines, where Scott played the first two rounds with Woods and Phil Mickelson. At the time, Scott was also ranked No. 3 in the world.
"I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week. Remembering back to Torrey Pines, the hype was enormous around that pairing. Obviously with Tiger and Phil, it was so much to talk about with it being Phil's hometown and Tiger dominating at Torrey for years. And it was a great pairing.
"It was an experience that I'll never forget. I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere. I think they've done it a fair few times since, but that was certainly a big pairing.
"I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory. I know what to expect out there. I don't know that I'm probably also the third wheel this week, as well. That's why I'm No. 3 in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be the third wheel, I guess.''
Scott is attempting to become the first player since Woods in 2002 to capture the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year. Going back to 1960, the only other players to accomplish the feat were Arnold Palmer (1960) and Jack Nicklaus (1972).
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