Adam Scott admits he considered taking the rest of the year off to remain in Australia but the urge to emulate Greg Norman as a multiple major champion inspired his return to the US.
The 40-year-old will contest the US PGA Championship for the 20th time and is on a mission to fulfil his potential by adding a second major title to his historic 2013 Masters victory at Augusta.
The 156-player PGA Championship starts Friday (AEST) at San Francisco’s TPC Harding Park.
Scott headlines an Australian contingent including 2015 PGA champion Jason Day, world No.19 Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Matt Jones and Lucas Herbert.
Scott escaped to Australia in March and was content with his family on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast as COVID-19 ravaged the US. He played regular social rounds and cash games with young professional and amateur golfers.
But Scott couldn’t ignore his dream of becoming the first Australian male to win multiple majors since golf great Norman captured his second British Open in 1993.
“I started to miss the butterflies in the stomach you get at a major,” Scott told AAP.
The US PGA Tour regular resumed in June with no fans and heavy COVID-19 restrictions. But that didn’t tempt Scott.
“There was very little atmosphere; that I haven’t missed,” he said. “But the chance to win a major championship? I’m wasn’t going to skip that.
“The hardest thing in Australia was thinking about majors getting played and I’m not there to try and win.”
Scott flew with his wife and two children back to their residence in Switzerland in July, then travelled to the US with his team and set up a bootcamp in South Carolina. He will remain in the US until next month’s US Open.
Day was the last Australian male to win a major, at the 2015 PGA. Although he has turned a corner with three straight top 10s on the PGA Tour prior to this week, form suggests Scott is the likeliest Australian to lift a trophy.
He won the Australian PGA Championship in December before claiming a 14th US Tour title at the Tiger Woods-hosted event in Los Angeles in February.
Scott has also contended heavily in four of the past five majors, including a share of the halfway lead at the 2019 Masters and three other top 10s.
“I think I’m in my prime,” world No.9 Scott said. “The depth of every facet of my game is coming along with my age. The short game has risen to a level it’s never been and my putting performs under pressure.”
However, Scott’s break means he is arguably the most underdone player of the 156 golfers at the PGA Championship. Even Woods, a four-time PGA champion, managed one US Tour event during its resumption.
Scott will be hard-pressed keeping up with big-hitting former PGA champions who have been playing the US Tour, such as defending champion Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Day.
“Well, I had eight weeks off to start this year and I won at Riviera,” Scott said.
“This break has actually been a positive for my career because it has rejuvenated me for another few years.
“I’ve starved myself of competition. I’m ready to go.”
AUSTRALIAN TEE TIMES FOR FRIDAY’S FIRST ROUND (AEST)
12.38am: Jason Day, Martin Kaymer (GER), Jason Dufner (USA)
6.31am: Matt Jones, Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Kevin Streelman (USA)
6.47am: Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler (USA), Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
6.53am: Cameron Smith, Denny McCarthy (USA), Cameron Champ (USA)
7.20am Friday: Marc Leishman, Matt Kuchar (USA), Matt Wallace (ENG)
7.26am: Lucas Herbert, Judd Gibb (USA), Mark Hubbard (USA)
1.33am: Tiger Woods (USA), Rory McIlroy (IRE), Justin Thomas (USA)
5.11am: Brooks Koepka (USA), Gary Woodland (USA), Shane Lowry (IRE)
6.58am: Jon Rahm (ESP), Phil Mickelson (USA), Sergio Garcia (ESP)