Scott stumbles left to hand Els the Claret Jug

Adam Scott faltered under the weight of pressure during the final round of the 2012 Open Championship, but how will he react given the chance to win again?

Standing on the 15th tee, Adam Scott held a four shot lead. He’d played 68 holes of very good, very solid golf with nearly all pundits predicting a Scott victory with four holes remaining. Perhaps the only hint of what was to come could be seen in Scott’s final tee shot of his opening round.

The closing hole at Royal Lytham is a perilous one, but a birdie on Thursday would have placed him in the history books as the only golfer to ever shoot better than a 63 in an opening round at the Open Championship. While we were a long way from a Sunday finish, Scott hit his worst shot of the day, a hooking iron into deep rough resulted in a bogey finish. A fine opening round, but a rough, anti-climatic finish.

Scott’s final four holes produced four bogies, three coming from pulled shots which ended up in danger on the left hand side. His approach to the par-4 15th left him in a tough position in the left greenside bunker. The bogey at 17 resulted from a pulled approach into thick rough and his poor drive on the final hole when par would force a playoff found a bunker on the left hand side.

The worst came at the 16th when Scott was safely on the green in regulation. Without underestimating the pressure on Scott’s shoulders it appeared an easy two-putt but his short par saving putt lipped out after missing on the left.
Combined with a stunning final round from one of Scott’s good friends, Ernie Els. A 10-foot putt on the last stood between Scott and a three hole playoff. Scott missed. To the left.
It’s interesting to note that Scott really only played a handful of bad shots all week. It’s just that most of them came over the final four holes when things got tense.

Peter Stone recently wrote that Kevin Sheedy once efined pressure as a “fear of failure”. The pressure on Scott during the final holes were immense from a combination of a large lead and the memory of watching his idol fall spectacularly during the final round of the 1996 US Masters.
This was a different failure than Norman’s in 1996 but whether you agree or not, Adam Scott’s name will be added alongside those of Norman, van de Velde and Phil Mickelson, among others who have handed the winner’s trophy over to someone else on a platter.
Some of those names went on to perform better under pressure while others disappeared exclusively to the realms of  “Top-10 lists” and YouTube videos. Videos that I’d really rather not watch.
Adam Scott has taken a very different approach to the way he approaches majors and for all intents and purposes has been successful when compared to his earlier results. He has a chance to bounce back quickly over the coming weeks at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational (as defending champion) followed by the last major of the year, the US PGA Championship.

But for now, the 2012 Open will very much be remembered for Scott’s failure rather than Ernie’s success and a few errant shots that all missed to the left.

5 thoughts on “Scott stumbles left to hand Els the Claret Jug

  • July 23, 2012 at 04:58
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    It was so sad to watch it all unfold this morning, i really felt bad for him. He didn’t play that bad but you hit the nail on the head he hit all his bad shots in the last four holes!

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  • July 23, 2012 at 09:33
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    Being an Australian it was hard to take. I was really hoping this would be his time. Hopefully this will make him stronger and make him hungry for more success.

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  • July 23, 2012 at 11:25
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    I can’t believe it. I wouldn’t say he choked but made poor decisions. In fact I think he was hitting the ball solidly on the last four holes. The missed putt on 16 along with a poor choice of club teeing off on 18 was the biggest issue. Maybe Steve should have got into his ear a bit more to use an iron off the tee on 18. Hopefully Adam can come back strong in the last major for the year. We saw Rory do similar things last year, so it isn’t impossible.

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  • July 23, 2012 at 12:44
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    If it will make you Aussies feel better, and as a South African, we were rooting for Adam until the opportunity arose for Ernie to take it. Adam is a likable fellow, and I am sure his opportunity will come. To state that the result will “be remembered for Scott’s failure rather than Ernie’s success” may well be true, but the fact remains that to win a major you simply have to manage the last stretch. Adam is not the first and will not be the last player to implode, and Ernie perhaps managed it better because of his experience. Which Adam now has under his belt.

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  • July 23, 2012 at 19:37
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    Hated to see Adam Scott give up 4 strokes on the final 4 holes to lose the Open. I’m not sure that any moral victory or lessons are learned from a heart wrenching loss like this, but I’m sure Scott will be back on top soon and I suspect next time he will not lose a lead at the end.

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