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Scott sharpens his claws
Adam Scott at the tender age of 22 won the Diageo Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles by the remarkable margin of 10 shots, completing the 72 holes in 26 under par.

Scott was expected to do well after his recent return to form but no one could have expected him to do this well.

With most of the big boys away in Oregon and failing to distinguish themselves in the NEC Invitational Tournament, it could be argued that Scott did not have a serious contender in the field. On this form, however, it is doubtful if any of them, with the exception of Justin Rose, could have challenged Scott.

Those who recall Greg Norman's first European win at Blairgowrie in the Martini International Tournament in 1977 will have experienced a sensation of deja vu while watching Scott at Gleneagles. Like Norman, Scott is an athletic golfing specimen with the same sort of presence and self-confidence. Norman was the same age as Scott when he won at Blairgowrie and caused something of a sensation at a time when few in the field were under 30. Few who saw Norman that weekend doubted that he would be anything other than a great champion and undoubtedly an Open winner.

What characterised Norman's play was his length off the tee and it is Scott's incredible driving distances that distinguishes him. Gleneagles' Centenary course has five par five holes and even with sodden fairway conditions Scott was 10 under par for these holes alone after two rounds and 18 under for the tournament. Length matters and if proof is required, this is it.

Watching Scott play golf is like watching a carbon copy of Tiger Woods. In every department of his game as well as his presence and deportment, Scott resembles Woods - and like Woods he looks every inch the champion.
Like Paul Casey, last year's winner of the Scottish PGA, Scott has benefited from exposure to collegiate and amateur golf in The US.

Indeed, Scott was particularly fortunate in attending the University of Nevada for it was in Las Vegas that he met Butch Harmon. It is not unlikely that Norman had a hand in this connection for it was Harmon who put Norman back together again after his slump to win a second Open and post the record score in the PGA at Sawgrass.

Indeed, it was the reputation that Harmon derived from his work with Norman that brought Earl Woods to his door in 1993 concerning the future prospects of his son, Tiger. The rest is history but one somehow feels that Harmon's chapter in the history is not yet concluded even though the Tiger appears to have written him out of his personal story.

Woods has made it known that he will no longer be requiring Harmon to coach him. Although the divorce would appear to be amicable, it is noteworthy that it comes at a time when Earl Woods has decided that he no longer needs to attend his sons' tournaments - and this not long after the Tiger restructured his arrangements with the International Management Group.

At the age of 26, the Tiger may have come of age and decided to take control of his own life. It may, however, be the case that the lad is suffering from a confidence crisis and is demonstrating to himself that he is in charge of his own destiny. Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Paul Casey may all have something more to say in the determination of Woods' destiny than he himself.

It is well known that Tiger demands absolute loyalty and discretion from those about him, a fact that has been much discussed since he parted company with Fluff Cowan. Fluff was the first man on Tiger's bag when he burst sensationally onto the world of pro golf. But Fluff became as much of a celebrity as the Tiger and when Fluff made the front cover of a golf magazine with no Tiger in evidence, Fluff's service was dispensed with immediately.

Harmon's profile is now almost as high as Woods' and as the guru has become increasingly referred to when the Tiger is not firing on all cylinders; he has been living dangerously. He has been living especially dangerously since he has been bringing along others to the point where they are posing a threat to the Master. The practice tee at every event is littered with Harmon dependents and he flits about them like a butterfly between flowers - pausing increasingly less often with the Tiger.

Adam Scott was always likely to be one of the main threats to the Tiger's supremacy. Everything looked good for him at the start of the year when he won the Quatar Open and subsequently took ninth place in the Masters. With Alistair Maclean, Montgomerie's former caddie on his bag, he looked certain to make an impression this year. After five missed cuts out of six events when he missed more fairways than he hit, things did not look good for him until he emerged from the slump taking 23rd place in the USPGA and sixth in the Scandinavian Masters.

Winning at Gleneagles with such a score and by such a margin must be the confidence boost that the lad required.

Woods is simply going to have to live with Scott, Casey and Rose in the same way that Nicklaus had to learn to live with Trevino and Jacklin. Woods has already written himself an indelible place in the history of the game. Just how well he handles this threat in the season to come will determine where he stands in the pantheon with Jones and Nicklaus.

©    26 - AUGUST 2002

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