Adam Scott’s more popular than Tiger Woods and he’s closing in on the No. 1 ranking

Stuart Franklin

Adam Scott has Tiger Woods’ top billing in his sights for 2014.

Adam Scott may have lost his chance to chalk up a rare Aussie Triple Crown when Rory McIlroy beat him on the 72nd hole of last week’s Australian Open. But the runner-up finish for the reigning Masters champ did nothing to harsh the buzz about Steve Williams’ man from Down Under.

Thanks to his recent spate of strong outcomes -- wins at the Australian PGA and Masters, third in the World Cup -- Scott is closing in on Tiger Woods atop the world rankings and has already surpassed No. 1 in worldwide popularity and marketability. So says a recent study by global researcher Repucom, which gives Scott a decided edge over Woods and McIlroy in six specific celebrity- and athlete-related categories.

The 33-year-old with a broomstick putter topped first-seed Woods and McIlroy, No. 6 among the planet’s best golfers, in appeal, influence, trust, and other categories, according to the survey of 1,000 participants in the U.S. polled weekly between August and October. In addition to earning a 76 percent mark for appeal to Tiger's 56 percent, Scott bested Woods in the trust department, 68-44.

Screen_shot_2013-12-03_at_1

(Graphic: Celebrity DBI)

"While Tiger has had to work on repairing his reputation following the 2009 Thanksgiving incident, Scott has continued to build a loyal fan [base] of followers through good behavior and wins," Kathy Gardner, global head of the sports-marketing research arm of Repucom, Celebrity DBI, told SB Nation by email on Tuesday. "He’s charismatic, sportsmanlike, and enjoying great success on the course."

The sky appears to be the limit for Scott as far as endorsement potential goes, since the only high-profile golfers the buying public likes more are Phil Mickelson and Stewart Cink, Gardner said.

While Scott bettered Woods in the poll, he is also -- at some 72 total points behind the leader -- chipping away at Tiger’s first-place standing among the best of the best. As the favorite in the limited-field, no-cut Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Woods will have a chance to extend his advantage. But Scotty, whose confidence must be soaring heading into the offseason, will most certainly challenge this week’s host for his lofty spot in 2014.

Scott, with Woods’ former looper, Williams, on the bag, took advantage of a lean, Tiger-like 20-tourney playing schedule to become the first Aussie to win at Augusta. With another PGA Tour win at The Barclays, and his victories at home, the Adelaide native is set to have a go at Tiger, though he knows dethroning the king won’t be easy.

"It's been a dream of mine, like it's a dream of every other kid's to be number one and I'm as close as I've ever been. I'm not going to stop dreaming of it just because Tiger Woods holds the No. 1 spot," Scott told reporters last week. "But we all know how difficult it is to surpass him; only a few people have done it in the last 15 years and I've got my work cut out for me the whole of next year in trying to do that.

"But Tiger won't want to give up that number one spot very easy either," Scott added. "It doesn't take much to motivate him to want to put someone back in their place."

More from SB Nation Golf:

Counting down the top 25 stories and moments that defined golf in 2013

Tiger favored at Northwestern Mutual World Challenge

McIlroy denies Scott the Aussie Triple Crown

Rory McIlroy: Trash talk takes a toll on athletes

Stevie Williams has unfinished business with Tiger

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