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11 Apr 2014 00:00
Adam Scott at the US Masters 2014 in Augusta, Georgia. (Reuters)
Of the golfing men who would be king, Adam Scott leads the race. The absence of Tiger Woods from this US Masters presents an opportunity for Scott – as well as Henrik Stenson and Jason Day – to claim top spot in the world rankings.
More than that, Scott, statistically the second best player in the game just now, could create a stir at Augusta this week by becoming only the fourth player to defend a Masters title successfully.
Still, Scott's first instinct is to bemoan a Masters minus you-know-who after back surgery.
"It's a huge loss. But it's the nature of sports, guys get injured. It's going to be [tough] missing the top player in the game this week but, as every year here, this event produces something special no matter what.
"It just has a way of doing it. It's not going to involve Tiger this year, but it will involve someone else and it will be a memorable event anyway.
"I think in the past certainly it has been easy to go to events and look at a guy who is the one to beat. I think that scope has kind of broadened now. There's a lot of guys with the talent and the form who aren't necessarily standing out above others, but on their week, they are going to be tough to beat."
Scott is open about the prospect of taking the injured Woods's ranking as one that excites him. "There's absolutely motivation for that," the world No.2 said. "But the motivation is just to play well. I feel like my game is at a point where, if I play well, I have got a chance to win this tournament. That's my goal this week. And the follow-on from that would be world No.1.
"I've had a couple of goes at that the last couple of times I've played and it hasn't worked out. If I can keep chipping away at it, whether I win or not this week and get to No.1, my goal is just to keep playing well.
"It's not that I don't tee up thinking I'm going to try to be world No 1. It just works out. You've just got to keep playing well. For the guys who have been world No.1, it has been a process to get there and that's where I'm at – at the moment. I'm getting close.
"I think over the last couple of years, I could definitely say I've been quietly confident coming to the majors. I've seen my form improve and the way I've played the majors gets better and better, and know if I execute the way I want, that I'd be a chance, and I've been a chance over the last few years."
One privilege afforded to Scott as defending champion was to play Augusta with his father, Phil, last weekend. "I think he now has an appreciation for how good some of the guys are out here, chipping and putting around these greens," Scott Jr said with a smile.
Players from just two nations have recorded victories on the US PGA Tour this season; the United States and Australia. Scott appears bashful when it is put to him he has inspired a generation. The 33-year-old has clearly gleaned immense personal satisfaction from last year's achievement here.
"It has been incredible to see the reception I get every week I play since being a Masters champion," said Scott. "It has been a real buzz for me to be welcomed at all the golf courses I'm at. This week has been something I have been really looking forward to. But as the last week came around, I also realised it would be time for me to bring the green jacket back and leave it here maybe.
"So that motivated me to work harder that last week at home and try and get myself into some kind of form that can maybe go back to back and keep the jacket for another year.
"I think all the great things I've been looking forward to are going to happen this week and it's going to happen for another year and another year and another year.
"Going up in the champions' locker room has been a dream come true. It's a lot of fun to see the guys up there and see them hanging out around the tables. It is quite an incredible experience.
"I want to try to enjoy all that, but I also want to really get my head into playing well this week because I think I'm in good form." – © Guardian News & Media 2014
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