Third-time lucky is not exactly the strongest grounds on which to base a claim for the Claret Jug. Fortunately for Adam Scott, there are far more persuasive arguments for the Australian leaving The Open Championship here with the game’s most prized possession.
For the last two years it has been ripped from his grasp and although he had the considerable consolation of earning a Green Jacket for wining the Masters last year, Scott agrees with the defending champion Phil Mickelson that victory at The Open would make him a “complete golfer”.
He is already a very fine one. The best in the world, no less, even if others get far more attention. Scott took the No 1 spot from Tiger Woods in May while the American was recovering from back surgery. Any hint that he had inherited the honour by default was dismissed when he won on his first appearance as the No 1 at Colonial in Texas.
“It hasn’t changed the way I play the game,” Scott said. “but I’ve enjoyed the last couple of months immensely. It’s been such a process to get to this childhood dream and achieve it that I’ve tried hard to keep myself there for a bit. Obviously the goal this week is to win a golf tournament, not just stay No 1.”
Before Woods, the player to top the rankings for the longest period was his compatriot Greg Norman, Scott’s boyhood idol. Emulating “the Shark” at an Open is now his priority. Therefore Scott has been at Hoylake since last Thursday, playing as many practice rounds as possible.
Such thorough preparation became a habit a couple of years ago when he almost won at Royal Lytham, but for collapsing at the end with four bogeys in a row to finish. Last year at Muirfield he led again on the final day only to slide backward as Mickelson came roaring through.
Learning all the intricacies of a historic links such as Royal Liverpool, in as many different conditions as possible, excites Scott. “It’s one of the weeks I look forward to most out of the whole year,” he said. “I get to play The Open course when it’s closed, it’s a real perk of the job.”
Getting comfortable at Hoylake was the reason he skipped the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen last week. “It’s a great track but the way I see it, and I might be wrong, why play that links when you can play this one?
“I really liked what Phil said last year that he felt like a complete golfer, because it is such a different examination of your game. At some point you have to hit something pretty creative that wouldn’t work anywhere else.”
Calmly, just as he does everything else, Scott recognises the opportunity that awaits this week. “I’m playing some of my best golf at the moment and I don’t know how long that is going to last,” he said. “So I have to try and take advantage and win the events I’d really love to win, and this is certainly one of them. I think maybe the third time I have to do it or it might not come back again.”