I think these slumps are contagious..
Scott puts horror year behind him
By Robert Lusetich
From: The Sunday Telegraph September 06, 2009
ADAM Scott is packing his bags, literally and figuratively, within the ostentatious steel-and-glass clubhouse at Liberty National, across the harbour from Manhattan, with the curtain mercifully drawn on the worst season of his professional career.
"In a sense, I'm glad it's come to an end,'' the 29-year-old says forlornly.
Despite what he called his "most enjoyable rounds, golf-wise, in a long time'' at The Barclays last week, it was too little, too late as the amiable Queenslander failed to qualify for this weekend's second leg of the US Tour's play-offs, the Deutsche Bank Championship, which ironically was Scott's breakthrough win on American soil six years ago.
Instead, he's heading home to the Gold Coast, where he'll have what he termed "a small surgery'' to remove a cyst from his right knee and then resume the search for a golf game that has mysteriously deserted him ahead of the three events which now constitute the Australian Tour - the Australian Masters, PGA and Open.
The former world No3, one of the most consistently good ball strikers in the world, has tumbled outside the top 50 for the first time since 2002 after missing 10 cuts in this most funereal of seasons.
For a dilettante, the cause of Scott's demise probably seems obvious: a jet-set lifestyle of the young, rich and famous, where the only dilemmas presented are which beautiful women to date and at which surfing spots to land the $US40million Gulfstream.
Except that while Scott has the good looks, money - more than $US20 million won on the course and at least a matching amount earned off it - and the jet, he really isn't much of an international playboy. Truth be told, many of his Australian peers on the golf circuit tease him for not having much game with women. "He's way too much of a nice guy,'' said one. "Probably the nicest guy out here.''
A caddie on the Tour says Scott could have his way with a different woman "every single day out here'' given the way they flock to him, bearing smiles, low-cut tops and phone numbers, except he rarely seems interested.
Indeed, he was genuinely heartbroken last year when his long-time girlfriend, Swede Marie Kojzar, called an end to their relationship.
A much publicised fling with actress Kate Hudson in Hawaii earlier this year never really happened - "We're friends, there was nothing in it,'' a bemused Scott says - though he seems to have found some solace with the young Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic.
The other refrain heard when Scott's demise is mentioned is that he doesn't work hard enough at his game, which, again, is far from the truth.
"Yeah, it's frustrating when people say things like that because I know I've worked harder than I ever have this year, even if I don't have a lot to show for it,'' Scott says.
As he leans against a locker and begins to discuss the state of his game, it's clear by the look on his face that he doesn't really have any answers. It's as much of a mystery to him as it is to anyone.
"I've been wracking my brain,'' he says, "I wish I had an answer for you. As I look back on it, I don't think I ever really had any direction."
"It's sort of been a constant search for my game which is not something I want to get into the habit of doing. There have been times when I keep thinking that I'm really close but the results just haven't been there."
"So, I don't know, after I take a break at home, I'm just going to take my time and groove my game again. I think I'm slowly putting the pieces back together.''
Nick Faldo advised him after his early struggles to take a month away from competition.
"He thought I should go to the range for a month and, looking back, that was probably what I should've done, but that's easy to say now,'' Scott says.
"At the time, it's hard to take a month off and just walk away in the middle of the season.''
Scott's a natural optimist and always felt he'd just play his way out of his funk. Only it got worse, not better.
And it was never worse than at the US PGA Championship in Minnesota, the year's final major, where Scott shot 82-79 to miss the cut by 13 strokes.
He managed to edge only five golfers, none of them touring professionals. More shocking was the 38 putts he took on the first day. Professional golfers go an entire career, if not a lifetime, without ever putting 38 times in a round.
"When the confidence goes in the game, it spreads throughout the bag,'' Scott says.
"In the beginning, I wasn't hitting it any good but I was putting OK to turn in some decent scores. But eventually if you're not hitting it good, you put a lot of pressure on your putting and when that goes, you can have a really bad week. You just lose confidence in everything.''
Scott responded to his deteriorating game by putting on "hiatus'' - his word - his relationship with long-time swing guru Butch Harmon.
"We're not working together but we still talk a lot,'' Scott says.
"I think I just needed to take the pressure off. I was frustrated that I couldn't do what he wanted me to do, he was frustrated and it wasn't getting us anywhere. We're going to see where we are at the end of the year and take it from there.''
An examination of Scott's statistics this season tell the story of his struggles.
From 75 to 100 yards, a distance where most pros expect to hit the ball inside 10 feet, Scott actually missed the green one of three times, ranking him 194th on the US Tour.
His driving distance and accuracy were both down, as were the number of greens hit in regulation, putting a lot of pressure on a short game which has always been more of a work in progress than a polished final product.
What stands out, though, has been Scott's futility on the greens. When putting from three to five feet, he missed one in five, leaving him 191st on the Tour.
Many of the 32 short putts he missed this season meant the difference between making a cut and going home early.
The starkest contrast in putting came from the range of 10-25 feet, where Scott led the Tour in 2008. This year, he's ranked barely inside the top 200 from that range.
It's not a pretty picture, and Scott welcomes the chance to go home and not think about it all for a while.
This is perhaps where his early end to the US season may be a blessing. Golf at the highest level can be a week in, week out grind. It wears players down.
"Yeah, you need time away because it can be a grind, year after year,'' he says. "It's really sweet when you're 21 or 19; it's just awesome and you can't get enough of it, but 10 years in, it's definitely a different mind set."
"Don't get me wrong, I think we're extremely fortunate, we get to play golf for a living. That's a pretty lucky career because for most people golf's a hobby."
"But there's a lot of hard work that goes in to be able to play on the Tour. To be successful out here is a grind.''
And so he looks forward to pulling out his surfboard for a while on the Gold Coast before he reaches for his golf clubs.
"Surfing's really important to me,'' Scott says. "Every time I get out of the water, I feel better. It's just refreshing. It's like cleansing, almost. It's peaceful.''
And right now, Adam Scott's a man in need of some peace.