To watch Adam Scott throw away a four-shot lead over his last four holes to surrender the British Open was to be reminded that few sports can match golf’s intensity for shredding a man’s nerves so completely. Everyone will have their own haunting image or decisive moment, but for me it was the concern clouding the normally affable expression on his face as he held his swing finish after his final tee shot and the bewildered look that replaced it once he had missed that final putt that were most affecting. Golf’s cruellest finish seems to have happened to one of its nice guys, whose dignified reserve in its aftermath only heightened the pathos around his plight.
As Adam Scott attempts to recover from the abrupt wreckage of his dreams at Lytham, he should reflect on one or two facts that may bring him some comfort. One, apart from those last few holes where mental frailty tampered with the hitherto faultless rhythm of his swing, he confirmed that he remains one of the most talented golfers in the world today with every chance of setting himself up for another major win soon. Two, his soft-spoken and genial manner, particularly in the face of such a bruising defeat, has won him many new fans around the world. They will be watching him with new interest in the future, and fervently hoping he shares their belief that he can shatter the myth about nice guys lacking the steel to deal with major-tournament golf’s ultimate pressures.