Adam Scott may be defending his Australian Masters title this week at Royal Melbourne, but the reigning U.S. Masters champion has Augusta on his mind.
The first Aussie to win at Augusta when he bested Angel Cabrera in a playoff in April, Scott believes he has the means, motive, and opportunity to capture as many green jackets as either the world No. 1 or today’s fourth-ranked player.
"I have the opportunity, I’m not saying I’m going to," Scott told the Associated Press ahead of Thursday’s kick-off to his country’s Masters. "I’m really looking forward to going back [to Augusta] and I feel I have an opportunity to develop even more there and become a dominant player like a Phil Mickelson or a Tiger Woods there."
Scott’s Masters triumph was his first in a major after coming oh so close, especially at the 2012 British Open when he collapsed down the stretch of the final round and lost to Ernie Els. He credited his Aussie Masters victory last year at Kingston Heath with giving him the confidence to contend at Augusta, a venue where he has grown increasingly comfortable over time.
"I've really felt the last few years my level of understanding of that golf course grew and then obviously culminated in winning this year," Scott, who was eager to make his mark on Australia’s hallowed grounds, said, according to Golf Australia. "People say you haven't achieved everything in golf unless you've won the Open at St. Andrews, but for an Australian to win a tournament at Royal Melbourne is the same kind of thing, and I'd love to do that.''
Despite the possibility of earning the Aussie triple crown, should he add this week's event and the Australian Open in two weeks to the win column alongside his 2013 Australian PGA Championship title, Scott noted that nothing could top what happened in April.
"It's probably going to be the highlight of my career no matter what happens from here, just with everything that happened at Augusta and being the first Aussie to win it," Scott said.
Scott has another goal in mind as well, and that’s overtaking Woods for the top spot in the world rankings.
"That's like the wild childhood dream,'' he said. "For so long, No. 1 was so far from being attainable for me. I sat there and watched Tiger Woods be double the points ahead of the second player in the world. It never really entered my mind, but I've never been closer now."
With Woods at 12.26 in points to his second-place total of 9.25, it would take a while for Scott to reach the pinnacle, but he believes he can do it.
"I don't think I'm far off being the best player in the world at the moment, but I'm going to have to raise my game to that next level and the only way to get there is to win tournaments, because the guy who's there is winning five a year ... average," said Scott, who has Tiger’s former caddie, Steve Williams, on the bag, at least for now. "I've got to raise my game to get there but it's as close as it's ever been.''
Speaking of Stevie, the New Zealander who handled the luggage for 13 of Woods’ 14 major championships before guiding Scott to victory at the Masters, plans a Steve Stricker-like schedule after next year.
Williams, who has honed his trade for 35 years, told stuff.co.nz he would loop next season and then cut back his workload to include premier events like the majors and World Golf Championships.
"Next year will be 36 years," he said. "I like 36, it's a nice number, it's a golf number [equaling two 18-hole rounds]."
Williams’ pending semi-retirement was not news to his employer.
"He was honest with me a couple of years ago and said he didn’t have long in him. If I play really good next year maybe I can persuade him to go one more season," Scott remarked to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard about his soon-to-be 50-year-old caddie, making some of those in the peanut gallery feel like checking into a nursing home. " He is getting along in years."
For the record, Tiger has won four times at Augusta (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), while Phil has three Masters trophies (2004, 2006. 2010).