MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Adam Scott’s nerveless finish to secure victory in his home Australian Masters will give him more confidence to close out the big tournaments following his galling collapse at the British Open, the Australian said on Sunday.
Battling an opponent in white-hot form and one of the game’s finest exponents of match-play golf, Scott showed ice in his veins to shoot a five-under 67 in tricky winds and quash Briton Ian Poulter by four strokes.
The win was world number five Scott’s first since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August last year, and preserved his impressive record of securing at least one title for the past 11 years.
More importantly, the 32-year-old said, it was a timely reminder that he could get the job done ahead of another campaign for his maiden major title.
“It was good to get back in that position and close the tournament out, that’s what I needed to do, and I‘m very happy with that,” Scott told reporters next to the tournament’s crystal globe trophy.
”I have done a lot of times before, but you’ve got to get in that position and it’s good to feel those nerves the last few holes, shots are crucial. It’s a tough finish here at this golf course.
”I haven’t been dwelling on what happened at the Open at all, I put that out of my head in the week afterwards - I had to, otherwise you’d never come back to a golf course, would you, it’s kind of painful.
“I’d been working hard and I hadn’t quite got back in that position until today, but I felt good out there. I just had to trust that all the work that I’d put into my game was going to hold up and not get in my own way, is the big thing.”
Scott exchanged the lead with Poulter three times in the opening holes but held onto it grimly from the sixth, carding nine straight pars before celebrating with a birdie on the last.
It was the defending champion Poulter, who inspired Europe to victory at the Ryder Cup, who blinked first and ultimately crumbled with three bogeys on the back nine at Kingston Heath.
Scott picked up a modest A$180,000 ($185,000) check and won a bit more faith from local fans, many of whom watched the British Open broadcast with horror and disbelief as he blew a four-stroke lead with bogeys on his last four holes to lose to Ernie Els.
He was presented the winner’s ‘Gold jacket’ - a nod to the green-colored one at Augusta - and savored the feel of it, despite it appearing a little loose around the shoulders.
“The jacket, I‘m going to have to grow into, but that’s alright - maybe it fits better when you win more of them,” he quipped.
“It’s a tournament I’ve been wanting to win since I was a kid and watching since I was really young, so it’s great to achieve that and maybe I can set the theme of winning jackets and turn it green next year before I come back to defend.”
($1 = 0.9702 Australian dollars)
Editing by John O'Brien