Scott loses British Open in last four holes
Adam Scott was the best golfer on the course all week at Royal Lytham until the final four holes.
Before the tournament I predicted Scott wouldn’t get it done this week but the way he played in the first 54 holes made me reconsider. By the fourth round, I believed this was his time to bag his first major.
He had played the most consistent and in my opinion, best golf all week.
He looked calm as he made his way around the course, even as he carded four consecutive bogeys on the final four holes to surrender the title to South African Ernie Els.
Scott had, until that point, played the course intelligently and hadn’t panicked when other players made blitzing runs through sections of the course.
Despite his rather sloppy iron play, American Brandt Snedeker managed to take the lead from Scott after a hot streak in the middle of his second 18.
But when his putter cooled slightly, those wayward irons began to cost Snedeker on the third day.
Meanwhile, Scott was still playing smart, solid golf on his way to three consecutive below par rounds to lead at 11 under after 54 holes.
He hit irons from many of the tees where others were pulling out driver and being punished.
Scott knew that anything in the deep stuff or a fairway bunker on this course, despite the lack of wind on the first three days, was no good.
Scott’s powerful swing allowed him to hit irons as far as his playing companions were hitting hybrids and woods. He was putting himself in position to make birdies with less risk.
His tee to green play, aside from the final four holes, was by far the best in the field.
Only in the final four holes, where he had to chop out of the rough and hit sideways out of bunkers, did he begin to falter in his ball striking.
What was of note, too, was his demeanour as all of this unfolded in front of him.
In his interview after the tournament, Scott said: “I was surprisingly calm the whole round. I probably spent all my nerves over the 24 hours leading up to playing. Once I was out there I felt completely in control.”
Watching him play over all four days I believe him. He looked as unflappable in his fourth round, knocking in the bogey at 17 to drop to seven under and tied with Els, as he did tapping in for birdie on the par five 11th in his third round.
If anything, the best indication that Scott’s game was off in the final round was his playing of the par 5′s.
Scott had birdied both par 5′s on the course in each of his first three rounds, and had hit the 11th green in two all three times.
In the final round his slightly wayward tee shot meant he had to lay up at 11, and ended up settling for par. He settled for par on both par 5′s that day.
If he was off his game it was only slightly
Even on the last four holes, he didn’t miss his shots by that much. His tee shot at 18 slid into a fairway bunker on the left by a couple of metres. Any further right and Adam may have been putting for birdie and for victory.
There are times in sport when people remember the person who falls at the last hurdle more so than the winner. This may be one of those times.
It was saddening to see Scott, in four holes, lose his grip on the trophy that he looked to have earned over four rounds.
Golf can be a cruel game.
All this said, the jug still reads Ernie Els, 2012 Open champion, and the proper plaudits must go to the victor.