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March 12, 2019

Adam Scott

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Adam Scott to the interview room here at THE PLAYERS Championship. Making his 18th appearance at this event, and he is the 2004 champion of THE PLAYERS. Adam, welcome back to TPC Sawgrass. If we can get some thoughts on being back this week.

ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it's something I've been looking forward to since they announced the change back to March. Obviously very fond memories of playing this event in March for me. And I enjoyed 18 holes out there this morning. Course definitely played a little longer than we saw it the last 10 years or so in May, with some slower fairways and wind out of a different direction than we see often here.

So I think we're in for a good challenge this week. It's not brutally difficult, but if the wind blows it's going to play tough.

JOHN BUSH: Talk a little about the state of your game. Some good finishes out west. Maybe not what you were looking for at the Honda, but talk a little bit about the state of your game coming into this week.

ADAM SCOTT: Generally it's in very good shape. I feel very good about where my game's at. I played in the last group twice in my last four events on a Sunday and just didn't quite get over the line both times, but generally everything's in a good spot. I was a little out of sorts at Honda with my iron play, which was a shame, and missed by one. But generally speaking I'm very happy with where my game's at, and I'm obviously looking to put in a good performance here this week.

JOHN BUSH: Okay. Let's take questions.

Q. I would be curious, if you could critique the new trophy, maybe compare and contrast it with the one you have.
ADAM SCOTT: Well, yeah, it's very nice-looking trophy. I mean, I would be more than happy to have one of them sit next to that vintage piece of crystal that I have at home.

Q. There's only so many guys who have played this event in both March and May. Now that you've sort of seen the golf course, can you just talk about how it plays different in those two months?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I think, look, I've always loved this golf course. I think it's an amazing tournament venue. I think the event was great in both dates. I never really felt like they got a great handle on setting the course up the way they should have in the May date. I felt like they should have taken more rough away and really gone to let the ball run and run into the trees and the pine straw, run further off greens, and play it really firm and fast. And they did cut the rough shorter but not short enough, in my opinion. And I think it's a much easier -- it's much easier to set it up well with this kind of rye overseed grass, and they can grow the rough and it becomes very much more target golf, and I think this course certainly around the greens, from my memory, plays well with that kind of long overseeded ryegrass rough to chip around the greens and test out the short game.

Q. Do you think one is going to play harder than the other?
ADAM SCOTT: They're very different to play. I mean, it's hard. I've had one round here in 12 years on the overseed, and it played incredibly long today. I mean, it was a little bit wet because there was a lot of rain last night, but I hit a 5-iron into the first hole, and I haven't hit anything but a 9-iron or a wedge in there for 12 years. A lot of other holes like that too. So if it does firm up a little bit, even if you're hitting a 7-iron into the first, you're going to -- I think it's going to require some really good driving and some really good irons. I think it's a great test.

It was in May too, but it kind of put everyone in the same place when it was firm in the fairways, whether were you a long hitter and hitting an iron off the tee or a shorter hitter hitting a 3-wood or driver, you always got to the same spot, and now it's going to be a little bit less of that. You'll have to decide how much you want to challenge off the tee.

Q. One interesting thing about this course seems to be that for the first 16 holes it wants you to be patient and on the last two it wants you to be bold. Do you find that to be the case, and how intimidating are the two closing holes when you're in contention here?
ADAM SCOTT: Well I think that's pretty fair. Look, I think with the way guys play golf these days, you don't want to be too patient. I don't see the rough that long this week; you're going to have to shoot a good score. I fully agree that the last two holes requires you to be very bold. I mean, even just to make par you've got to hit good shots. There's just, it's extreme penalty for anything that's not good. Whether you're playing it late on Sunday to win the tournament or just playing your second round, everything can come unraveled on those two holes.

Q. A little out of left field here, but what's been your experience thus far this year with leaving the flagstick in when you're putting, and how prominent and effective do you think that will be a couple weeks down the road on those greens at Augusta?
ADAM SCOTT: I've just been leaving it in to see what happens, and it's had a positive -- so far it's had -- my putting has been better than last year. I don't know whether that's because the pin has helped me hole more putts. It depends. I mean, for me I feel like on shorter putts when the pin is in I have a nice reference point of the exact middle of the hole and something to aim against. I'm not trying to hit putts harder and smash it into the pin, and it's just more of a reference of aim, but I have putt better, and I think if I were to hit one too hard, I doubt I would hit one so hard that it bounces out from short range.

And as far as Augusta, I think it's a good thing, too. I mean, if it's working, I'll just keep doing it.

Q. When you see the success that Vijay had at the Honda at 56 years old, being tied for the lead on the back nine, you see Phil winning earlier this year at 48 and Davis Love a few years back at 51, does it change your perception of how long an impactful golf career can last in terms of being able to get in contention? Does it change your thinking at all about how long you, as long as your body holds up, can really want to do this?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't think it's changed my perception of how long. I mean, I feel like you're talking about exceptional players, too. You could say Jack Nicklaus, as well; he won the Masters at 46. The greatest player, arguably. And the names you mentioned are no slouches, either. So I'm not surprised they're playing well into their 50s even.

I mean, it's all a positive thing. I think if you can manage your body, and generally guys who are that good do a pretty good job of most things. That's why they're so good.

Q. As a follow-up to that, do you suspect that if Tiger's body holds up that we might see him still out there chasing the big prizes when he's 50?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I mean, I can only talk from thinking -- I mean, if I'm able to play in the Masters when I'm 50, physically, then I'm playing. You know? I don't know what Tiger's mindset is, but I think it's safe to assume that if he thinks he can compete, then he's going to play.

Q. Besides your victory, you've had a few other years where you've obviously been in contention here, but a lot of the notable players here have struggled to contend consistently at this tournament. I was just curious if you had any kind of theories why that might be? Is it the course? Is it the strength of field every year?
ADAM SCOTT: I think probably there are certain courses that people love and I wouldn't say hate, but just they don't agree with you. Whether it's visually or a particular hole or something, I mean a lot of guys struggle putting at Riviera and I putt well there, which is weird. And this might be a course like that, as well, where it's just difficult to see the right shot, difficult to read the greens. And if you get on a bad run here, I mean, this course really can dent your confidence because the severity of penalty is very extreme, and that was part of the design from Pete Dye. I mean, you're on the green, or three inches to the left you're in the water. It's a big difference in a game of inches.

Q. Do you think this course is less of a horse-for-courses type of course than some others?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I mean, yeah, like I said, I think it's a great tournament venue because it provides that excitement. There are certain -- some of the greatest designed golf courses in the world wouldn't provide as much excitement as this has. So I think it's served its purpose and it's provided a lot of entertainment over the years, and it may not be everyone's favorite golf course, but I think for this event it's fantastic.

Q. I asked Jason a few moments ago this question and I'll ask you, if you look at the competition out there right now, not counting yourself, which player or maybe players is the most difficult to beat when they are on their game?
ADAM SCOTT: I'd have to say Dustin Johnson at the moment. He wins more than anyone else, it seems like, consistent leave the last few years. When he's on, he looked good the other week, where did he win last? Mexico. Yeah, and he had Rory chasing him in Mexico. And look, I think Rory's incredible when he's on and hard to beat, but I'll just give a slight edge to Dustin at the moment. Yeah, he looks incredibly sharp. I think he's won twice already this year. Is that right? Yeah.

Q. It's 15 years since you won this. Would that guy 15 years ago be happy, really happy, ecstatic with where you are now? What would he grade what you've done in the last 15 years?

Q. I guess what's the expectation turned into reality, you know what I mean?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I think when I was sitting in here on the Sunday night after winning, I was probably quite confident that I was just -- at that point I had just won some events in Europe and then came to America and I won some events, and I think when I won here, I won soon again after it, and everything was just kind of trending, and I would have thought, oh, I'll just fall into to winning some majors along the way, but that didn't happen. It took a lot longer for me to get to kind of where I wanted to be, and then even when I was there, I didn't manage to just win all the majors I wanted, just because I was playing better in them, too. I think it's easy to -- I'm the biggest critic of myself, but I think I'm kind of satisfied, I would be kind of satisfied. I think I didn't realize how hard it was to win big events on a regular basis, and I just won one really early here, meaning THE PLAYERS, early in my career and thought it would just keep happening, and maybe that was an error. But when you've got the momentum going, you just, why would you look too deep into it. But it took me quite awhile to figure out, all right, it's just not going to happen.

So I would say fairly satisfied.

Q. Is that the sort of advice you would give if you were sitting down with junior golfers or young up-and-coming stars? You would sort of say, don't take it for granted; is that maybe what you would do, or how would you --
ADAM SCOTT: That's a very tricky -- look, it's an incredibly difficult balance at top professional level between being over-analytical or being blase. You look at the guy -- you can easily criticize everyone, but there's guys, there's Bryson DeChambeau on one end and there's Dustin Johnson on the other. And when neither plays good, they're both doing it the wrong way, and when they're playing good, we think the way they do it is great.

So it's really about the person and balancing out that, there's so much information out there, how much you let into a young player's mind and how much you just nurture their natural talent and see how far that can push them and then give them a little bit of info when it's needed. I mean, it's really -- I think that's the tricky thing for the young player today that I can't relate to because I don't think there was that much info when I was that young player.

Q. Would you like to see this tournament become the fifth major?
ADAM SCOTT: I kind of feel like it is. I don't think we need to make it an official major, but I think for most guys, we've -- I'm treating it like a major, and it certainly has a really, really high level of importance for us. If I can think back 15 years, like the sense of achievement winning THE PLAYERS, what that feels like to beat such a strong field on a very demanding golf course, obviously surviving the last couple of holes I think is -- I'm not going to say up there with a major, but it's right up there. I look back on it as an absolute highlight of my career.

Q. You've started here 18 times. This will be your 18th start. You've won here before. You are one of the few winners who's followed up with an outstanding performance the next year. What makes you come back? What makes you enjoy this tournament as opposed to maybe some others that you started at and won at?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, I mean, I got off to a great start here. It must have been my second or third time here. I won the tournament. I really feel like the local community has been incredibly supportive of me ever since. I was a young kid and they probably had no clue who I was when I won, and I've been coming here for a long time now, so I'm somewhat of a familiar face for them, and I feel like I've had incredible support, and that's been fun for me every year. To be out here and have a few people yelling my name definitely feels good.

It's always had a great atmosphere, this event. I think this community has been a big part of making the tournament this successful. So they're the kind of -- when I tell people which event they should come to spectate, people ask me, which event should we go to, outside of the majors, I always say THE PLAYERS, because I think -- not that I've been outside the ropes much, actually I have one year when I wasn't even in the tournament, I was here watching, but I think it looks like a good time outside the ropes. (Laughter.)

Q. The last decade the 16th at Augusta there's been a big trend for making aces on that hole. Wondering your ace in '12, how memorable was that, and why does that pin position on Sunday lend itself for that happening?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, that was the last time I made a hole-in-one, actually was that one in 2012. And you know, I hear things like they know exactly where to put the pin if they want holes-in-one on Sunday and they can move it four inches, you know, to the right and the ball doesn't feed in.

I don't know if that's true, but that's some of the stories that get around during the Masters week when you're out there and hearing how in depth they get into setting up the golf course. But either way, whether they put it right on the hole-in-one spot or the four inches to the right, it's a great hole location and we have seen some incredible stuff there over the years. If you hit a good shot, it's a really great chance to make a 2, and I think, I don't know, the last 10 years or so the Masters seems to have had very exciting finishes, and 16's been a part of that in some of them for sure.

Q. Curious if you've made any scouting trips to Augusta this year, and what do you think about the new No. 5?
ADAM SCOTT: I haven't actually. I was planning on going last week, but my wife and I went to a Reba McEntire concert, so that was a bit random. Anyway, I haven't. I've heard about the 5th. I'm looking forward to going up and playing. Obviously I will make a trip here pretty soon. I actually don't plan on playing after this before the Masters, so I've got plenty of time to go up and have a look.

Q. You've kind of done something of a musical chairs of sorts with your putter this season. Could you take me through the process of choosing your flat stick and where you are in the search right now.
ADAM SCOTT: I think kind of with this leaving the pin in thing, there was a bit of an opportunity to experiment a little bit and just get some info, and I've putted with a few different putters now. Obviously had some success with the arm lock style putting, if you call it that. But ever since I switched to like a broomstick style putter, I've been interested in the technology in putters, as well, because they kind of went hand-in-hand a little bit. So what I feel like is I have three incredibly good ways to putt with three incredibly good putters. I can either kind of float the broomstick or I can arm lock or I can do some kind of claw short putter with a very stable putter head. I used that at Honda and it was good. I didn't hit my irons well enough to really have a lot of putts for birdie, unfortunately. So hopefully here this week.

But I feel that I don't have to just stick with one. It actually feels quite good to change because I've worked so much with all the different styles over the years, I feel quite comfortable and competent with them all that I can bring them out quickly and do well with it, even putting with two putters in the bag last year and having options out there. I just, it's whatever feels like I'm just going to be free of thought with it, and that's why switching it around is quite good for me.

JOHN BUSH: For the record, Adam did not go to a Reba McEntire concert.


JOHN BUSH: But Adam, thank you for your time.


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