In this week’s Player Blog Presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Adam Scott talks about starting his year in the Middle East, his turning point last year, and why the Majors keep him motivated.
It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been 20 years since I last played here. Amazingly, it’s just not fallen at the right time because in that time I’ve played several times in the area, but not the Desert Classic. So it’s fun to return here to this event and generally to come back to the Middle East.
Obviously I’m not very familiar with it because it’s been so long, but interestingly this course must have left an impression on me because I remember the shapes and directions of all the holes quite well. Maybe not so much the intricacies of each hole, but I think it’s such a well-known event around the world and I’ve watched it over the years as well that it’s fresh in mind, and I feel good about that.
It’s a bit of a fresh start to the new year, and it’s a new schedule for me. I’m quite enjoying it because I’ve hit that point unfortunately where things become the same every year and it’s a bit monotonous playing the same events for 20 years. So to have something new is very nice.
It also seemed to make sense purely in a geographical sense. I moved back to Europe over the last couple of years during this Covid time and settled in Crans with my family and kids, so this is a much shorter trip to start the year and they are able to join me as well. I have to do things now to make things as easy as possible, but when you have two Rolex Series events to start the year in this kind of climate, why wouldn’t you come? It’s an exciting change and hopefully it starts my year off on the right foot.
I think looking ahead to this year, the key thing for me is balance. Because I’m living in Europe - once the FedEx Cup season is over – it could be very convenient for me to play some other events on the DP World Tour. I loved playing Wentworth last year, and I do plan on playing in Scotland in the summer, so if there is an opportunity later in the year to go and play in Europe then hopefully the family can join me, and it’s all very easy because it’s a bit closer.
A top ten last week was a good way to start the year. I played generally quite well. It was quite challenging for a couple of days out there in the wind and a top ten is good, but I felt like I had a chance on the back nine on Sunday to win. There are ifs and buts of course, but I was right there and I would like to be in a similar place this week, and I think my game is in a good enough place to put me in the hunt.
It’s great to be in that position with my game now, because at some point during the middle of last year, through the Open Championship, it was quite a frustrating run. I was playing OK but I wasn’t getting the results, and this is a results-driven industry. So you have to fix some things. There were a few things I identified, but it was also just the drag of Covid and certainly trying to play the PGA TOUR but not being based in the US, which was very difficult. Like with everyone at some point, the frustrations with all the difficulties of moving around caught up with me.
I really had to change everything because I had a very global team, and we had become used to being able operate to live wherever we wanted. My trainer was living in Hawaii, my coach was living in London and I was living in Switzerland and no one could get to one another to see each other. I spent very little time with my coach, and I don’t even work with that trainer anymore because it was just not possible to do that. So there’s been a lot of changes, and until last summer I felt like a lot of balls were up in the air and nothing was very calm or consistent and it was always juggling something.
But you’re constantly learning in this game. And for me it’s been a good time - if there is a good time – to have a hard reset on things. I feel like I’ve trudged through that and dealt with a few things that were tougher to deal with, and at least I feel like I’ve come out of it.
I probably set my expectations a little wrong at the start of last year, but when you’re competitive it’s very hard to lower them. I expect to play at a very high level and if I don’t I’m not really even going to have a job. You can make a lot of excuses, but I don’t think excuses will get you very far on a competitive Tour like this, so you just have to figure out a way to deal with whatever situation you find yourself in. And after being out here for 20 years I know that things don’t always go your way, especially in golf, because it’s a difficult game. So although I’ve been frustrated when I haven’t played as well as I want to, I have never let it take me to the breaking point.
There was certainly a turning point with the whole thing last year where it became slightly more manageable. It was more of a gradual thing, and I think it was probably more related to getting some of my golf-specific things in line first. It was even down to the guy at Titleist who fits me. I hadn’t seen him for 18 months, and I was using a driver that he didn’t particularly like for me. I saw him last summer, and just changing that had a trickle-down effect on everything getting better through the bag. I was hitting the driver better, and because of that the confidence got a bit better, and it’s so crazy that a little thing like that just helped. But the driver is an important club for me. When I look at last year, from February to July, I felt like I was driving it into the rough all the time, but when I’m swinging well I drive the ball very well and that confidence filters through the bag.
And as I got into the back end of last year and adjusted some of the golf aspects like my driver, I could start seeing the positives again. That was obviously very helpful and made it easier to adjust my attitude of ‘I’m over this’ to ‘I’m looking forward to playing and getting stuck into a new season.’
My game is in a very good place at the moment, and it’s in a place where I feel like I can get results. Obviously I hope that I can be in contention this week, but the thing is to manage it all well the next few months. I’m already thinking about the Masters, and there are lots of big events in between, but everything I’m doing between now and then is to be prepared for the Masters. My stats last week were certainly better than last year and I’d like to keep going like that, so if I’m striking it like that it allows me some room. Hopefully I now have a week or two where the short game steps up and a few more go in.
I think it’s fairly simply for me to stay motivated because I haven’t really achieved everything I want to achieve. When you take everything away that’s it. There’s still a few boxes to check on that list of things, and that’s my focus now for as long as I stay out here. Watching Mickelson win a Major Championship at the age of 51 certainly gives me hope that I can still play at a high level for another ten years plus. I know he’s put an incredible amount of work in to being able to do that and I’m not taking that for granted, but I feel like I could do that and play well in later years and hopefully still be a top player.
This is a big year. I’m in a good spot physically and mentally, and I’m still in what I would still call the prime of my career. I’ve got a lot of experience behind me, so it’s time to take advantage of everything I’ve put into my career at this point and hopefully I get into some situations where I can make it go my way on Sunday and win some big events and maybe tick off a couple of those boxes I have left.
The Majors are really what careers are defined by, more so than ever. I’d love to win more and be a multiple winner. At this point I need to be greedy because I don’t have much time. Certainly the Open Championship is unfinished business for me, but I’m not going to be picky – I’ll take any one!