PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - Adam Scott and Kim Si-woo, the youngest two players to win the Players Championship, will tee off in the same group in Thursday’s first round with contrasting levels of confidence.
Scott, who was 23 when he won the event in 2004, is searching for a good result at a happy hunting ground and has reverted to a long putter in an effort to resurrect his game and extend his major championship streak to 68 consecutive starts.
Kim, on the other hand, is brimming with confidence after a playoff runner-up finish three weeks ago in nearby Hilton Head Island.
Scott is not setting his sights on becoming the best putter in the world. Rather, he reckons he needs only to become average on the greens to start contending again.
The 37-year-old, who in 2013 became the first Australian to win the U.S. Masters, is not currently exempt for next month’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
If the worst comes to the worst, he can take his chances at sectional qualifying, but he can avoid that 36-hole lottery by jumping back into the top 60 in the world rankings.
A strong performance this week would be a huge step in the right direction for the ex world number one, who has slipped to 71st.
Scott was in an upbeat mood after a practice round with current world number one Dustin Johnson at TPC Sawgrass on Wednesday.
“I need to be average putting to be competing, which doesn’t sound that hard to do. I should be able to do that,” Scott, the 2004 champion, told reporters next to the 18th green.
“I feel I have got my best golf ahead of me. I just played with the best player in the world, and I know I can play at that level still.
“I’m feeling really comfortable after last week. It’s interesting as soon as you put a bit better how much more freedom you feel everywhere else.
“So I’m excited about this week. I still feel I can have a good year.”
Scott has played every major since the 2001 British Open. He was one of the biggest sufferers from the 2016 ban that outlawed golfers from anchoring their putters against their chests.
Scott reverted to a regular putter, with limited success, and has now gone back to the one that he first used when he originally switched to the long putter in 2011.
To adhere with the rules, he no longer anchors the club against his chest.
South Korean Kim, meanwhile, shocked the golf world when he won the tournament last year at age 22 despite suffering from a back injury.
He is in fine fettle on his return.
“My body feels great. I’m in great condition heading into this week with no pain,” he said.
“I worked really hard to get my body into the best shape possible, so I think that has led to a lot of the consistency that you have seen this season.”
Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond