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Scott eyes second title as Internationals prep at Australian Open

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Adam Scott is keen to “stick it to” Tiger Woods and the U.S. team at next week’s Presidents Cup but first he wants to end his decade-long wait for a second Australian Open title.

Golf - Masters - Augusta National Golf Club - Augusta, Georgia, U.S. - April 13, 2019 - Adam Scott of Australia chips to the 8th green during third round play. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files

The Australian Open has a long and rich tradition but this year’s edition, which tees off on Thursday, has something of the feel of a Presidents Cup training camp for Team International.

While most of the U.S. team are warming up for Royal Melbourne at captain Tiger Woods’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Ernie Els and half of his team, including Scott, are at The Australian Golf Club fine-tuning their games.

Scott’s determination to end the 21-year American dominance of the team competition is clear. As is his desire to win his home Open again a decade after his 2009 victory.

“I’m a little surprised that I haven’t won another Australian Open in this 10-year stretch,” said Scott, who will play with Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey in the opening round.

“I managed to get a couple of (Australian) Masters in that period and a PGA, but it would be nice to get my name on that cup again. “It’s a great trophy and any time you see your name kind of racking up on a trophy is something quite special. So, this week would be the week to do it.”

The 39-year-old Queenslander has twice come close to adding another “Scott” to names such as Nicklaus, Palmer and Player on the Stonehaven Cup.

He was overhauled by Rory McIlroy on the final green in 2013 and finished second with Jordan Spieth behind local Matt Jones two years later.

Scott is the leading Australian in the field after Jason Day fell victim to a back injury and withdrew from both this event and the Presidents Cup.

Also preparing for Royal Melbourne in Sydney this week are Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, CT Pan and defending champion Abraham Ancer.

Taiwan’s Pan suggested the groundstaff at the host club had also done their part to help the Internationals.

“I love the course, I love the design and I think the only difference this year is I feel like the condition is more like Royal Melbourne,” he said.

“I think this is perfect preparation for Team International, especially for me.”

The players practised on Wednesday under skies dulled by the smoke from the bush fires that have raged around Sydney for the last few weeks.

“Obviously, visually, it’s a bit hazy ... but I don’t think it will effect the golf at all,” said Mexican Ancer.

Scott said the tournament offered him a chance to prepare “mentally and physically” for taking on “the ultimate competitor” Woods and his team.

“It’s going to be very, very difficult but ... I believe we can win next week,” he said.

“It would be great to stick it to Tiger and the entire American team.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford