Sympathy abounds as Adam Scott suffers at the hands of golf

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.

8 thoughts on “Sympathy abounds as Adam Scott suffers at the hands of golf

  1. the reason for his let down was clearly his inability to trust his swing. it happens. well written.

    from Colorado

    • Thanks for reading, commenting and praising Alex. As far as his swing goes, I thought he swung it like a dream for at least the middle two rounds of that tournament and most of the last round. However, when the heat was on in those crucial last moments, all that calm mindset and smooth swinging when out of the window. I pointed to the awry tee shot on 18 that found the bunker, but Nick Faldo also mentioned on commentary that Adam Scott tends to pull his shots when he’s swinging badly. That happened time and again in those last few holes, and I can only surmise that his muscles damagingly tensed up due to the pressure that was beginning to envelop him. Some players, like Tiger Woods, rely on their force of their personality rather than their swings to make shots happen in those situations. Adam Scott is arguably in possession of an equal if not finer swing right now, but once that had left him in the white heat of the final stretch, he missed that inner belief that almost mystically helps a player will the ball into the hole. That’s a problem that he won’t know if he can address until he puts himself in that position again. It’s sad, but as he said with such poignant understatement in his post-match interview, “that’s golf.”

      I don’t know if you watch tennis, but there’s a legitimate comparison to make with a French tennis player called Richard Gasquet. He’s in possession of enough talent to warrant comparisons with the very best in the game, but you might never hear of him because he continually misplaces his best tennis at the first sign of mental pressure. Most elite-level sports are played in the head, but nowhere is this more true than the great game of golf. And what we saw on Sunday was difficult to take because of this fact.

  2. Great to see this blog. Keep going buddy. Don’t know the technical aspects of golf but as a very keen aspirant of one day being able to play this game well, even I as an amateur know that there are days when you walk up with a club and just know you’re going to hit it well, and days when no matters what you do and how much you focus on your stance or swing, nothing goes right. Golf absolutely is such a mental game, more so than most others!

    • I really appreciate the support, Ashwin. And you’re dead-right about the mental aspect of golf having a bigger role to play than in other sports. I think nerves in cricket, tennis and football can be pushed aside to a certain degree by the fact that the batsman/tennis player/footballer has to react to the incoming ball rather than continue contemplating the significance of an occasion. In golf, the exact opposite takes place where nothing moves while standing over the ball and there is no external trigger to distract your rambling mind. I once stood over a three-wood shot for an eternity as I considered how sad it would be if I failed to take advantage of my perfect drive by putting the ball on the green – and promptly topped it so hard that my back hurt.

      • Haha yeah I can imagine…very well explained actually…the whole waiting before hitting the shot thing in golf can really be a pain…the more you wait, the more you feel you’re going to mess up, but then the more you feel you need to concentrate…vicious cycle that usually leads to an excessively hard swing.

        Cricket that way’s easy…walk up and try and smack the ball…’tis a different matter of course if the lad bowling at you is thundering them in at 95mph and your personal safety comes into question. That, thankfully, is not an issue in golf.

        cheers

      • Haha, well luckily for you, you know that’ll never be an issue when I’m trundling up to the wicket. Although I do remember Shoaib Akhtar being recorded at 100.2 mph in the 2003 World Cup in SA and Nick Knight playing it away so calmly it seemed like time had slowed down.

        But you’re right: seeing a batsman take on quality, hostile fast bowling is one of cricket’s specialities. Pity there aren’t that many express bowlers going around at the moment. I guess Steyn, Malinga, (when he plays), Tait (although he too is not around regularly enough to make an impression) partly fall into that category – and I hear there’s a good young bowler in Australia although I can’t remember his name. Ah, I just checked: James Pattinson.

        T20’s brought around a lot of these slower, wicket-to-wicket bowlers who can also do a job with the bat though. And opening a Test match innings with spin bowlers, as I think Pakistan did on a couple of occasions, is still something I have to get used to. Is it too much to ask for an old-fashioned “fast” bowler whose only job is to spearhead an attack, tear in and knock over the batsmen, and fire up the crowd in the process?

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