DUBLIN, Ohio – A lot has changed for Adam Scott since last year’s Memorial Tournament, when he showed up desperate to play well, to crack the top 50 in the world and earn a spot in the U.S. Open without having to endure 36 holes of sectional qualifying.
“I've changed a lot of stuff, I have to say,” the amiable Australian said before proceeding to list just about every part of his approach to the game. When he finally took a breath, he added, “hopefully there's some consistency to come now.”
He’s been consistently good since last year’s PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, when he made a run at eventual winner Brooks Koepka before finishing third, but he also has been consistently out of the winner’s circle.
That’s the final change he hopes to make when he’ll begin the final round of the Memorial Tournament on Sunday two strokes behind leader Martin Kaymer of Germany. Scott fired a third-round 66 on Saturday at Muirfield Village Golf Club to post 13-under 203, his best 54-hole effort in the event.
“I feel like this is the spot I’m meant to be in,” said Scott, who has 16 PGA Tour titles but last won at the 2016 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Doral. “I feel like the last few times I’ve been in with a chance, going back to the PGA Championship last year, I felt comfortable.”
He wasn’t comfortable last year. He was frustrated. And when he finished T-35 with a final-round 73, he had no other recourse but to show up the following day for the 36-hole qualifier for the U.S. Open. He got through, but he missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills.
Still, perhaps it led to a breakthrough of sorts.
“Yeah, it was definitely pride. I wanted to be at the U.S. Open,” said the 38-year-old Aussie. “Unsatisfied just mailing it in and sitting on the couch when I could have been given a start. And that's always nice to see if you've got anything inside and actually want it. So that was a good test for me.”
Sunday’s final round will be a different test for the former Masters champion, who, like Kaymer, once held the No. 1 spot in the world rankings. Currently No. 26 in the world, Scott has finished in the top-5 here three times, most recently in 2014 when he was T-4, and in 2007 he fired a 62, one off the course record held by John Huston.
He’s talked this week about getting out of his own way. (Coincidentally, so has Kaymer, who hasn't won since the 2014 U.S. Open.) Since that third-place showing at the PGA, Scott has collected five top-10s despite a schedule more modest than most of the top players. Included was a 19-under performance at the Farmer’s Insurance Open that was only good enough for second place behind a red-hot Justin Rose.
“Right now, I feel every time that I play my game is good enough to win,” he said. “Since [the PGA] I’ve seen lots of good golf, and I feel like my game is at a level that, if I put it all together properly and control myself out there, I can win.
“I’m excited for the chance tomorrow.”
Better being excited than frustrated. Another big change.