Scott hopes Masters win start of winning habit
The satisfaction from closing out a tournament matched against a world-calibre opponent is set to fuel the newly crowned Australian Masters champion Adam Scott in his quest for a major title next year.
The 32-year-old finally filled the hole in his resume reserved for a gold jacket when he upstaged defending champion Ian Poulter by four shots in a gripping final round at Kingston Heath.
With a consistent year still to translate into a tournament victory, Scott made it clear his Masters and Australian Open campaigns would be about playing himself into a ''winning habit'' that would endure through next year's major schedule, starting with the US Masters at Augusta in April.
''I've said for the past two years that's all I am out there to do and everything else is part of the process of getting there. Winning here is an important part of that winning-a-major process,'' Scott said.
''Winning is a habit. It's tough to win out here, so if you can get into a habit of winning ... then that is part of the process for me and confidence-building going into next season and what I'll do leading up to Augusta.
''It's a tournament I've been wanting to win since I was a kid and watching since I was really young. So it's great to achieve that, and maybe I can set a theme of winning jackets and turn it green next year before I come back to defend.''
In a surprise twist to Sunday's marquee duel, it was uncharacteristic mistakes from the usually ice-veined Poulter, who went into the final round one shot ahead, that opened the door for Scott to fulfil his boyhood dream.
The one-upmanship with Scott that had provided the highlight reel for his masterclass eight-under par round of 64 on Saturday continued for seven holes on Sunday.
But poorly executed shots on the 12th and 14th from Poulter - and an inexplicable missed tap-in that he didn't even set up for on 17 - led to three bogeys that helped take the pressure off the crowd favourite Scott.
It was up to the world No 5 to simply keep his cool in front of the big crowd. Scott did so admirably, performing all his showtime under-the-card work early and then holding on for par down the back stretch before rolling in the happy-ending five-metre putt for birdie on the 18th.
More than just his polished round of five-under par 67, which completed a solid four rounds of 17-under for the tournament, most satisfying for Scott was his ability to close out a tournament, with the memories of his infamous British Open self-destruction still fresh.
That he was able to do it by out-playing the king of match play and Ryder Cup hero Poulter was just as significant.
''I didn't want to let another opportunity slip by, once it got down to the last few holes and I was in the lead,'' Scott said.
''It was good to get back in that position and close a tournament out. It's what I need to do. It was good to feel those nerves the last few holes where shots are crucial.
''I have been working hard and I haven't been back in that position until today, but I felt good out there. I just had to trust that all the work I put into my game would hold up - and not get it my own way, that's is the big thing, not letting the thoughts of what happened at the [British] Open or any other negative thoughts come into play.
''The confidence you take out of that big stage really helps.''
Poulter, who shot an even 72 to finish the tournament at 13-under, admitted he made costly errors but was serious about not taking anything away from his great friend Scott.
''For a while it was an exchange of birdies, not the front nine, but he stayed tight for a long time and I made a couple of errors on the back nine where I was overly-aggressive into a couple of pins and I paid the price for that,'' the Englishman said.
''I made a fatal error on 17, kind of stretching over Adam's line to tap in, and that made it a little easier for Scotty going up the last,'' he said.
''All credit to Adam, to go out there and shoot five-under. It was pretty tough out there, he played solid and forced me into a couple of silly mistakes.''
Sydney Morning Herald