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SHELL HOUSTON OPEN MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 18, 2008
DOUG MILNE: Thank you for being with us today. My name is Doug Milne, communications manager for the PGA TOUR.
Today we are joined by Adam Scott coming to us from the Doral Golf Resort and Spa where he's competing in this week's World Golf Championships - CA Championship. Adam will also defend his title at the Shell Houston Open in a few weeks which we'll talk about, but just a few comments on the state of your game now as you compare for this week's CA Championship.
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, my game feels really good at the moment. I'm very happy with the way I'm swinging the club. I've been working particularly hard the last couple of months on my short game, and that's feeling really good, which I think it's going to be needed here at Doral this week; the wind's blowing and the rough is up.
So we're definitely going to be doing some scrambling. So, I'm feeling pretty confident.
DOUG MILNE: Switching gears to the Shell Houston Open, a finish which will remain in everyone's mind for some time. If you can just take us back to that last hole last year, and kind of your take on things.
ADAM SCOTT: Well, as I remember, Stuart birdied the 17th to go within one.
And was standing on the 18th, Stuart hit it right in the bunker and then it was me up, and I didn't hit that bad a drive, but obviously it runs out quickly down the left. You know, just pulled it a little bit too much, my drive.
So at that point in time, you know, I was still feeling okay because I felt like, you know, I can make a bogey here, no problem and I should be able to still get in a playoff hopefully unless Stuart does something ridiculous.
Hit a good shot on the green and obviously Stuart hit a poor bunker shot in the water and from that point, I was pretty much home.
Q. What was your take on the sort of almost rough-free setup they used last year at the Shell and their notion of trying to make it the best Augusta preparation they can? What did you think of the whole thing last year?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, from what I remember, the course was in as good of condition as any golf course we played last year. It was beautiful. The fairways were really in perfect condition, and the, rough, I think they kept it a really nice length and obviously trying to prepare it a little bit like Augusta where the rough is not very long and they did a good job of that.
It was playable, still challenging. The only disappointing thing that happened was the amount of rain that we got, and that made the greens soften up, and that's probably why the scoring was low.
Q. I think the 36-hole lead was 6-under.
ADAM SCOTT: Yes, I think the weather was really tough the first two days, and I remember when it firmed up and we had a soft golf course, you saw the scores go pretty low.
Q. Just to follow up on that, you've played the week before majors, you did that last year, and you're obviously doing that now; how do you think that works for you? Will you do that before the other majors?
ADAM SCOTT: I just kind of play it by ear to be honest. It's just whether the tournament is a course I like and it fits the schedule.
I like to get into a major feeling like I'm competitive and in that tournament mode, and if I haven't played much leading into a major, then I like to play the week before. If I've played a lot, I don't mind taking the week off, either.
But you know, obviously I haven't found the exact recipe for the major, but I think too much is made about the week before or not. I think you've just got to listen to how your body is feeling so that you get to a major feeling good, and that's all you can do. And then it's just like any other week then; you go about your golf.
Q. Kind of following up on that last question and answer, in what ways do you think you are better prepared to win a major this year? You've talked about how important it is to you. Any specific parts of your game you think are better equipped now to win a major than maybe they have been the last couple of years?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it definitely has made a conscious effort to tackle any weaknesses in my whole game the last six months or so. You know, purely golf-wise, you know, chipping and putting, I've worked hard on, and I think I've brought that up a level.
Still, there's room for improvement as there is in my ball-striking and driving, but I think I've brought my chipping and putting up a level. It's feeling really good.
My mental approach, I really have taken some measures in that respect. More discipline-wise, you know, working on breathing, incorporating some yoga practices into my workout and controlling my breathing, which I think is pretty important.
You know, I've gone about it from all angles and kind of tried to think outside the box a little bit, as well, because that might be what it takes to kind of break through and get competitive in these majors week-after-week.
Q. You talked about breathing techniques. Is that more of an issue, do you think, on the big stages when there's obviously more tension and pressure?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, when you're coming down the stretch, the juices get flowing. You've got to try and stay in the same rhythm you've been in all day, and sometimes you know, you get moving fast, you're moving faster, your heart beats faster, and if it does, you need to know how to control it and stay constant like you have all day.
It's just another mental discipline, as well, and I think that's the kind of thing that I'm looking forward, being able to maintain focus and being a little more disciplined. You know, all of those kind of things a little outside golf training might help me.
Q. How much encouragement do you take, with all of the talk about Tiger's dominance, there were three first-time major winners. How much encouragement do you take from win's like Zach Johnson's at Augusta, and if you were to win Augusta, how big of a deal would it be for an Australian to finally win there?
ADAM SCOTT: You've got to remember that Tiger, you know, even though he's winning every tournament at the moment, history shows he doesn't win every major. So hopefully there's an opportunity; certainly they don't come by easily or often. But I'd like to get myself where I can at least get in a position where I can maybe take advantage of that opportunity.
And following up, the second part, you know, for an Australian to win the Masters would be enormous. It's definitely a boost that Australian golf needs and to bring the profile of the game back up and I think personally just to be the first Australian to win the Masters would be a nice little feather in the cap.
Q. I've talked to some European players about how they like to wear some flashy clothing, whether it's their own, like Ian Poulter has his own line now, or some other designer. How do you feel about wearing some snazzy clothing on the course? And also, do you have anything special planned to wear at the Masters in a couple of weeks?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, I'm pretty lucky in the fact that I have one of the biggest fashion houses in the world supply me with clothing in Burberry. You know, their designers do a fantastic job on the clothing that I get to wear on the golf course, and so it's not too hard to feel good when they are giving me nice clothes like that. We don't really have anything special planned for Augusta, because, you know, their range is so good that I think really any of the clothing will look really good out there.
I know I've seen the clothes that I'm going to have in a month's time, and they are beautiful.
Q. Is there anything that you think would be too loud or too flashy? One time Ian wore some Claret Jug pants at the British Open. Is there anything that you think would be a little too much for your style to wear out there?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, Ian certainly pushes the boundaries, that's for sure. (Laughing) He's worn some stuff that I definitely wouldn't wear out there, but he can carry it off; he's that kind of personality. But maybe I'm a little more subtle than Ian.
Q. And who do you think are the best dressers? Who are some of the best dressers out there on the TOUR?
ADAM SCOTT: I think Nick Dougherty is a pretty sharp dresser. Luke Donald dresses quite sharply. I think those guys wear nice clothes.
Q. Until last year at Houston, all of your tournaments that you had won, you had won as a front-runner, and you came back in Doha winning from off the pace again. Wondering what you may have taken away from having done that last year and wonder if any of this dovetails into any of the mental stuff you've been working on.
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, maybe. I think it played a factor in Qatar this year. In Tuesday ton last year, it was like you said, the first time I had won coming from behind.
I don't know, things were just clicking. I think Stuart and I were kind of feeding off each other that day. We were both playing pretty good, so it was almost -- early into the round, it was almost like we were the leading group.
But I think some of the stuff that I've worked on, the breathing and the putting, definitely was a factor in Qatar because my putting was beautiful that day, maybe the best I've ever putted.
Q. I'm wondering, what you did early in your career is very unusual and a lot of times players will throw away tournaments when they are in the lead and kind of have to learn to protect the lead and you seemed to be able to do that from the start. Wondering, do you find when you're trying to -- have you found that when you tried to make a charge from behind, that's when you were having a harder time controlling the breathing and the emotions and those things?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know. I think to be honest, when I had the lead, I just knew I was playing well. And that was enough for me to keep it going. You know, I've always felt like when I'm playing well, I'm not afraid to just keep going, and can get a lead and win a tournament by a lot, and I've won a couple tournaments by big margins in the past.
And when I've been behind, I really maybe have not had that belief that I'm playing that well because I wasn't out in front. You know, just never really have been able to mount a chart. I don't know if it's not controlling the breathing. It's irregular; sometimes it comes in the heat of the moment and sometimes it doesn't. I remember being so calm over my putt to win at THE PLAYERS, yet there have been other times out there where I feel myself shaking almost. It's unusual, but just to be aware of and be able to control it is important.
Q. The putting, is that the times when that's the biggest issue in terms of the emotions and kind of harnessing everything?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it is a little bit, because you know, it is frustrating to not make all of the putts that you'd like to, especially when you're giving yourself chances.
You know, I think that's more of a technical thing. It all comes on one big package, but a bit more of a technical thing than putting than being able to stay calm, but we've addressed that from a technical issue.
Yeah, certainly the breathing and everything and the discipline comes into play with the putting, as well.
Q. I know you've felt in the past that you thought people may be made too much of the short game in terms of being a weakness; that maybe it just wasn't necessarily the strength of your game. Do you feel like it's reached the point where you think of it as a strength of your game?
ADAM SCOTT: I wouldn't say it's a strength of my game because I really feel my driving is the strength of my game. But I don't think it let's me down as much as people like to believe. I'd like to improve it and I think there is plenty of room for improvement. But I can see what they belief and I believe that it's not letting me down; it's not just people make out --
Q. The stats suggest that it has not been letting you down. Your putting stats are pretty solid.
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, you know, I think the important thing is that it doesn't let you down at a crucial time, and I'll be the first to admit that there are a couple of occasions in tournaments, I can think of the Match Play this year; that I missed some putts I should have made at crucial times in the match and in the tournament, and that's disappointing and that is certainly something I would like to change.
Overall, I don't think any player can play consistently well or be ranked highly if there really is a weakness in an area like that, a significant weakness.
Q. With what's been going on this season, it would be remiss to not ask you your take on sort of what Tiger has been doing with his game, and as a corollary to that, what's sort of the challenge in terms of not letting what one guy is doing affect how you prepare or how you think of your game or how you move forward with your season.
ADAM SCOTT: Well, he's having an incredible season, and you know, I'm really not surprised by it all. You know, I'm blown away by his motivation that he has, and I just think it's a pure desire to succeed that he has that helps him get -- that helps him win all the type.
You know, you would think he might get tired of it, but I guess not. He's certainly pushing everyone else harder, and like you said, you know, you can't go and change everything you believe in just because of what he's doing.
You know, I believe in all the stuff that I'm working on, and my goal here in Doral this week is to play well enough hopefully to get a chance to go at it with him and see how good I actually am.
Q. Do you have to find yourself doing variations of: "Gosh, I'm the fifth-ranked player in the world; I can play this game?"
ADAM SCOTT: Well, you think that any time some days. I feel like it would be more frustrating -- I haven't been on the receiving end of one of his wins where I've been in contention with him yet this year, and for those guys, I think they are pretty frustrated because they may feel like they have played well and he's slipped away with a win and taken it right out from underneath everybody. And I haven't been on the receiving end of that, but I'm sure you'd feel that way if you were.
Q. I was told you were wanting to get to Augusta yesterday; did that happen?
ADAM SCOTT: Yes, I played Augusta yesterday.
Q. Can you tell me how the course is looking, and did you notice anything different specifically? I'm told that with the new pin locations on 7 and 9 that they have had to do some re-sodding there, and I was wondering if there was any noticeable difference between those greens and the others, or did they do their usual job of making everything invisible?
ADAM SCOTT: Everything is pretty much invisible, but you wouldn't know they have changed it. But 7 green is significantly different and you can see the difference, and I think that they did a really nice job of it. It's very subtle. But there is new location now on 7.
And No. 9, I didn't see much difference. That one must be really small.
No. 11 they have given us a little room and they might have taken a row of trees out on the right. So there's just slightly more room off that 11th tee, but that was about it.
And the course is looking perfect. The greens were rolling really good yesterday. They have got plenty of grass coverage, so they can start cutting it down any time they want now.
Q. To follow up, I know you went to Torrey Pines after the Buick Invitational and played with Butch. Was Butch along on this trip?
ADAM SCOTT: Butch played yesterday. He played about as well as he played at Torrey Pines. (Laughing).
Q. And I remember you saying that he wasn't real happy at Torrey Pines.
ADAM SCOTT: No, but we had a fun day, Freddie Couples and Nick Watney and I were out there at Augusta yesterday. And, you know, playing at Augusta with Freddie is such a great experience. You watch that guy hit it on automatic pilot on the front nine yesterday, he just knew exactly where to hit every shot. Even the ones that didn't look great finished right under the hole in a good spot. You know, he knows what he's doing around there. So that was good for me and Nick to go and see that.
Q. Who played the best of the three TOUR pros?
ADAM SCOTT: You know, Freddie played good, I've got to say. He played really solid. Hit a lot of nice shots. Made a few nice putts. We were keeping it very friendly out there, just having a good time.
Q. And how would you say your game fits Augusta?
ADAM SCOTT: I think my game fits it extremely well. There are a lot of mid- to long-irons that come into play in Augusta, and there was a lot of wind yesterday which makes it even tougher. You have to have a really good ball-striking week now to do well, as well as your short game being really sharp. It's just such a demanding course with the length that they have added there, and tightening it up with trees and rough.
So you know, I feel very comfortable out there. If I can drive it well, put it in the fairway, I give myself a lot of chances.
Q. And the other unrelated question, you talk about Tiger's motivation, and I'm curious your perspective, for all of the talk about how far he hits it or his physical strength, it seems to an amateur observer that maybe his mental strength and motivation as you referred to are maybe what separates him more than anything from others. As a Top-10 player, what in your mind separates him from the other top players?
ADAM SCOTT: Absolutely, you hit it right on the head. We all know he's physically strong. He's in good shape. But his mental approach and discipline separates him so far, and you can't help but think how confident he must be after winning all of these tournaments for ten years.
I know when I win a tournament how confident I feel the next time I tee it up. I can't begin to imagine how confident he must feel when he tees it up, so I certainly think that's a huge asset that he has over all of us.
Q. Last thing, when he's lining up that putt and you're watching on TV, given what he's won all these years, are you watching that thinking there's no way it doesn't go in?
ADAM SCOTT: I actually was flying at the time. I saw the highlight late at night. But you could see his eyes; he looks down the whole putt. You can watch his eyes when he reads putts. He reads putts beautifully. We've seen it so many times, he holes a putt when he has to, and that was a big one there.
DOUG MILNE: Everyone, thank you, and Adam, thank you for your time.
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