Adam Scott became the no. 1 golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings on Monday, and lived up to his first test with a dramatic playoff victory against Jason Dufner at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Scott showed why he is a deserving number one by making three birdies on the back nine on Friday to make the cut, and then playing the best golf on the weekend with consecutive 66s to get into a playoff.
The playoff was full of excitement with Dufner hitting it to four-feet on the 17th (second playoff hole) for birdie. Before Dufner putted, Scott sank his 20-footer for birdie, and Dufner answered to push the playoff back to the 18th hole. Scott hit a stellar approach to eight-feet on 18, and won the title by making the putt.
Scott’s clutch performance was exactly what golf fans are accustomed to in the Tiger era, “It’s what it is all about. It’s what we all practice hard for. A ball striker like Jason is going to hit one in close sooner or later, and he did on seventeen, so I knew I had to push one in there too. To make the putt [on no. 17] was huge, and then I had a great look at it [on no. 18] because I was basically next to my divot from the first time around, so I had a good feel for the [approach shot].”
Scott was proud of the way he played after a tough start to the week, “To claw my way back into this event feels really good, especially around this golf course, which requires a lot out of your game, a lot of patience, and this is going to be a sweet one.” He also bounced back after a double on nine in the final round with birdies on 11, 12, and 14 to get to nine-under, the total Dufner would post after sinking a 30-footer for birdie on 18.
After the playoff, Dufner was in good spirits talking about Scott, “He’s a great player, obviously no. 1 in the world. It’s tough to beat him. He’s a great player. It’s tough to concentrate, he’s so good looking, too.” Dufner added some more serious thoughts about the playoff, “[Adam] made the birdies. I thought maybe I could sneak one in there on 17, but he topped me. I’m happy to be playing a little bit better. Happy with my confidence since Augusta. Maybe that will kick start my year.”
With the world no. 1 ranking comes a heap of expectations, and Scott is handling the extra pressure well, “I think the important thing was I realized [the no. 1 ranking] didn’t mean playing perfect, and I certainly didn’t play perfect all week. I made a few errors. But the way you come back and get it done, and I felt like I certainly played like one of the best players in the world out there on the back nine.”
Scott also feels winning this week backs up his place atop the world rankings.
“It’s a good feeling, and maybe some validation you could say, but winning any golf tournament is very difficult out here,” said Scott. “They don’t come easy, and I had a chance earlier this year and I let it slip.
“I kind of get into the chance [to win] with a couple of holes to go today. I didn’t want to let this one slip. So I played hard, and I was really happy with where my game was at. As always, a bit of luck involved. And to come out on top is a really satisfying feeling, and hopefully keep no. 1 for at least another week.”
Scott can add another feather to his cap as the only player in history to win the four legs of the Texas Slam: 2007 Shell Houston Open, 2008 HP Byron Nelson Championship, 2010 Valero Texas Open, and the 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
“Someone made the point that no one’s ever done it (won the Texas Slam),” said Scott, laughing. “And obviously I had a chance to do it…the thing is I made the decision to enter last week, it was on my mind. I’ll take any kind of record I can get.
“This is a golf course steeped in the history of the game, and certainly with Ben Hogan. I was on the first tee counting up his wins on the wall. It’s incredible like that about everywhere you go with Ben Hogan, every trophy you see.”
“That’s a nice feeling for everyone to be involved in this event, they’re involved in a part of golf history, really. And we have to think about these guys that came before us and made golf what it is today.”
Scott is carving out his own piece of history in the game.
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)
(Photo: Tom Fox – Dallas Morning News)