With four holes to play in the 2012 British Open, Adam Scott appeared to be on the way to winning his first major championship. He was leading by four strokes, and only an all-time collapse would have prevented him from hoisting the Claret Jug. Unfortunately for Scott, four bogeys on his final four holes led to that collapse. But now he's once again in contention on Sunday at the Open Championship, and a lot has changed in a year.
Scott's collapse in 2012 at Royal Lytham could have been a career-defining result. Ernie Els played well down the stretch to win The Open, but Scott gave it away -- including a missed three-foot putt on the 16th and an eight-footer on No. 18 that could have forced a playoff. Scott's nerves got the best of him as he unraveled down the stretch, but he's a different player heading into Sunday's final round.
The collapse didn't define his career like it has for others. Instead, he rebounded this season and claimed his first major championship by winning The Masters.
Scott won the green jacket in a playoff against Angel Cabrera with his putter leading the way instead of failing him like it did at the 2012 Open. He's had the game to win major championships for a while, but the difference between Scott at Royal Lytham last year and Scott at Muirfield now is confidence. He's no longer carrying the burden of being the best active player without a major championship, a fact he acknowledged in his post-round interview on ESPN.
"I'm still playing for the same trophy I was last year, the one I don't have," Scott said. "But also, there is a small weight off my shoulders in the fact that I've won a major."
At the trophy presentation following last year's final round, Scott accepted his runner-up trophy, but appeared to be in disbelief over what had occurred minutes earlier. Following Saturday's round at Muirfield, though, he was calm and collected.
A failure like that could cause some players to press even harder. Win at all costs to erase the memory. Scott doesn't appear to be taking that approach this week, and instead he's playing his way back into contention and playing with nothing to lose.
"I've somehow crept back into it," Scott said, via Sky Sports Golf. "I feel like I've got nothing to lose, just majors to gain."
He'll be in the spotlight Sunday when he plays in the second-to-last pairing along with Tiger Woods. While the extra attention and pressure of playing for a major may have affected him in the past, he has been there and done that now. Like Scott was last year, Lee Westwood will be facing the pressure on Sunday of sitting on the third-round lead and trying to cross his name off the top of the list that contains the best active players without a major.
Scott's collapse is quickly becoming a distant memory and, if he's in position with four holes to play on Sunday, don't be surprised if he comes away with the Claret Jug this time. He's played the final four holes at 1-under this week, among the best of any player in the field.