GULLANE, Scotland, July 17 (Reuters) - The painful way in which Adam Scott lost last year’s British Open steeled the Australian and gave him the willpower to win his first major championship at this year’s U.S. Masters.
Scott held a four-shot lead at Lytham 12 months ago but bogeyed the last four holes to allow Ernie Els to sneak through and claim the Claret Jug.
“Overall you just have to be tough coming down the stretch, and I wasn’t tough enough that day,” the Australian told a news conference on Wednesday.
“A four-shot lead isn’t enough if you’re not going to be tough. Even if you’re being tough, four shots can only just get you over the line.”
Scott played a practice round with five-times British Open champion Tom Watson at last year’s Australian Open and the veteran American gave him some advice.
“He said that he let one (a major) slip early in his career and he said he would never let that happen again,” Scott said.
“He would just be tough and want it so badly. And sometimes maybe that has to happen for you to realise that. Obviously words coming from him I took to heart.”
Scott put the advice to good use in April when he beat Argentina’s Angel Cabrera in a playoff to win the Masters.
“It was a completely different situation at Augusta,” Scott said. “But I felt like I played tough, especially in the playoff, because no one’s going to give you a major.”
Australia have suffered sporting disappointment in recent weeks with the British & Irish Lions notching a rare rugby union test series win Down Under and England claiming victory in a nerve-jangling first Ashes cricket test.
“I’d love to get in here this week and maybe spur our cricket team along to levelling the test series,” Scott said.
“It’s a tough time being an Aussie over here at the moment, to be honest with you.”
Scott was glued to the cricket on Sunday when Australia fell 15 runs short of a victory target of 311 but he was very impressed by the performance of 19-year-old Ashton Agar, who has been nicknamed “Scotty” due to his resemblance to the Masters champion.
“I hope he’s the spark our Australian team needs going forward,” Scott said. “He’s a young kid, to come out and make 98 on debut, obviously he’s got what it takes.”
Scott cannot wait to tackle the Muirfield course on Thursday.
“This really has been the tournament I’ve been looking forward to most this year,” he said.
“After what happened at Lytham, I was eager to get back and try and get into another position to hopefully win the Claret Jug. Putting Lytham behind me and going on to win the Masters this year has been a bit of a fairytale.” (Editing by Justin Palmer)