WATCH: Final round highlights of Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
Adam Scott started last week having moved to the position of No. 1 golfer in the world, despite not playing at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. But he cemented his status at the Colonial, winning in a playoff over Jason Dufner.
“It’s a good feeling, and maybe some validation you could say, but winning any golf tournament is very difficult out here,” said the Australian after winning a three-hole playoff.
“They don’t come easy. And I had a chance earlier this year and I let it slip. I didn’t want to let this one slip. So I played hard and I was really happy with where my game was at. As always, a bit of luck involved. And to come out on top is a really satisfying feeling, and hopefully keep No.1 for at least another week.”
Canadian Graham DeLaet continued his strong play and closed at two-under par for the final round, moving him into a tie for 14th and pushing his winnings this year over $2 million.
Brantford, Ont.’s David Hearn recovered from a difficult third round to shoot four-under par and move into a tie for 21st.
Scott, the former Masters champ, doesn’t have a great track record of closing out tournaments. He led the 2012 British Open into the final hole, only to hand the tournament to Ernie Els, and he handed the Arnold Palmer Invitational to Matt Every earlier this year when a final round 76 saw Scott slip to third.
But Scott’s 66 in the final round demonstrated he wasn’t going to let the Colonial out of his grasp.
“It certainly gives you an element of confidence to know that you can go out there and hit good shots under pressure when it is do or die,” says Scott.
“But you learn something every time when you’re out there. You feel like your game is improving.”
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Scott’s win also shows that some of the game’s best are prepared to step up in the absence of Tiger Woods, who is out following back surgery with no return time set.
The win is Scott’s 11th PGA Tour victory and third in the past two seasons.
But the notion of being the top golfer in the world weighed on Scott, he says. He barely made the cut at the Colonial, but shooting eight-under on the weekend vaulted him up the leaderboard.
“It was certainly on my mind,” he says. “I was having to speak about it a lot this week, leading up to teeing off, and maybe added a little pressure for myself trying to play like a No.1,” he said.
“But I think the important thing was I realized that didn’t mean playing perfect, and I certainly didn’t play perfect all week, I made a few errors. But the way you come back and get it done, and I felt like I certainly played like one of the best players in the world out there on the back nine. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to have to go and win every week to stay No.1.”
Interestingly, the final round was a battle between two players known for their meticulous ball striking and their struggles with their putters.
Golf, in some ways, is two games in one—hitting the ball into the green, and then getting the ball in the hole from there. For Scott, who faltered before turning to a long putter, and Dufner, who makes every short putt an adventure, the game on the greens can be a challenge that is hard to watch.
But Dufner made a 25-foot putt on the 18th hole to force the playoff, and narrowly missed a 40-foot putt on the third playoff hole to extend the tournament.
“It’s tough to concentrate—he’s so good looking, too,” joked Dufner after the playoff.
“He’s a great player, obviously No.1 in the world. It’s tough to beat him.”
Still, Dufner admitted the game at the top levels is extremely difficult on a player’s psyche when he misses short putts.
“The short ones when you miss them take a lot energy out of you,” said Dufner, the former PGA Championship winner.
“So it’s tough. You’re competing against the best in the world, No.1 in the world is here this week, he’s right up there. It’s hard when you miss the short ones. But you have to keep plugging.”
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