2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: Adam Scott
KELLY ELBIN: 2013 Masters champion, Adam Scott joining us at the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. This will be Adam's 13th PGA Championship including a tie for 23 here in 2003.
Adam, your first major championship at Augusta, tied for third at The Open Championship, been quite a year as far as major championship golf for you.
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it's been a good year in the Majors, I'd say. It was really pleasing to play well again at The Open just a couple weeks ago, so I feel like I'm in some kind of form coming into the PGA this week. I'd really love to get myself in there with a chance to kind of bookend the Masters with a PGA Championship for this year.
KELLY ELBIN: You said you played a few holes yesterday, just some initial thoughts from what you saw on the golf course, please.
ADAM SCOTT: The golf course is presented immaculately, which is not really surprising. We are really spoiled every time we come to the PGA. They set it up very well. The rough is long, and that's the challenge here, will be to keep it in the short stuff to give yourself a chance to score. I think you're going to have to be careful on the greens. There are some severe greens out there where it's important to keep the ball under the hole, on or off the green.
Q. The way Tiger finished off last week or made the statement last week, how much does that change the element of this championship, that he's coming in in that kind of form, that ominous form?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, I think Tiger is a factor no matter what, even coming in not with that kind of form. He's been up there in majors recently, and just has not finished it off. But obviously he put it all together last week at a venue he's extremely comfortable with, so I don't know that Tiger's confidence is ever really down. It's hard to imagine when you've won 80 times or something, but he's obviously going to be feeling good about where his game is at.
But this week is a new challenge, as it is for everyone, and we all start from the same point on Thursday, and really adds a lot of good stories for you guys to write, but as far as I go, I'm just worried about getting my own golf ball around the course.
Q. Ten years ago, you played in the PGA here and you were in the mix at the halfway stage; what does it mean that ten years later? Why is it that now you're one of these consistent performers? How would you be different?
ADAM SCOTT: Ten years is a long time and I've played a lot of golf and I feel like a completely different golfer. I had forgotten that I was even in the mix, but I think it was one of the first Majors where I kind of went into the weekend thinking, oh, if I have a good weekend, I could actually win this. And I probably battled around on the weekend to finish 23rd.
But experience counts for a lot, obviously. You know, so many things are different between now and ten years ago, that you just evolve as a golfer and mature, hopefully, as a golfer and get better and that's what I've always tried to do and all of those things have added up to me being in the last few years a much more consistent performer than ten years ago.
Q. Phil and Rory are the only two rookie winners in the last 20 Majors; can you just talk about that? Do you see that trend continuing on a course like Oak Hill this week?
ADAM SCOTT: They are the only ... oh, in the last 20, right.
I don't know about that. It could just be chance, coincidence that that's happened. Maybe we're starting a new cycle. You know, they are quite recent repeat winners, so maybe the new cycle is that there will be some more, hopefully (laughter). I'm trying to talk myself into this one.
Yeah, there's so many things that you can't explain with the game, and winning Majors is so difficult. So much has to go right for you for it to happen, especially probably in this last period of five years or so where I feel like so much talent has come on to the tour and on to the world stage that it's just getting harder and harder.
Q. Oak Hill, do you need to have experience to win here?
ADAM SCOTT: I think it certainly will help. These traditional style courses really test patience and strategy, and an experienced and mature golfer should have a slight advantage in that. But in saying that, a young guy coming out on his game like Rory is very experienced, but a young Rory McIlroy blowing the field away isn't out of the realm, either.
I think more often than not, the experience would help around a course like this.
Q. I have a two part question, Adam, say that mostly for you, Kelly. How much did the disappointment of a close call at The Open, was it different because you'd already had a major championship than if you hadn't?
ADAM SCOTT: I think I was probably more disappointed at The Open this year than last. I worked really hard to get myself in a position with nine holes to go, because I got off to a slow start on Sunday, and I felt that I had a bit of momentum going my way, and to kind of ... in the space of about 45 minutes, to go from leading to not even having a chance on the 16th tee was more disappointing, probably more so than at Lytham. It was a completely different situation, but I think feeling like I could do it again, because I have done it, because the disappointment after recently winning from a position like that.
Q. Pádraig had made kind of an interesting point last month that having won a major doesn't necessarily help you in the Majors until you've stopped playing; in other words, having the Majors is great, but only at the end of your career when you look back, not necessarily while you're playing. Do you buy into that?
ADAM SCOTT: A little bit. I've only been able to experience a couple of months of playing in two Majors, being a Major Champion, and I was still really nervous at the U.S. Open and I was still really nervous at The Open. I haven't won those ones, so they are trophies that I don't have that I really want. Maybe it will be different when I go to the Masters next year, I might relax (laughter). I'm really nervous to play this week, as well, because I'd like to win here.
They are the biggest events in the world, and yeah, I buy into it a little bit, but unless you had them all, you might relax a little bit. But, you know, I've heard Tiger say he still gets nervous playing Majors. They are what we all aim for. So I'll buy into Pádraig's statement a little bit (smiling).
Q. Similar sort of question, but you talked about the fact that you want to end the year with perhaps winning the PGA Championship, but in the four months since winning Augusta, how much have your expectations and your sort of confidence grown?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't know how much it's really grown. I mean, it's just continued to build a little bit, I guess. I thought I was playing good before I won the Masters, and really over the last couple years, I built a mind set that I was good enough to be a major champion, and it didn't really matter that I wasn't. That wasn't affecting the way I played. You've got to fool yourself a little bit sometimes.
So winning, obviously, was extremely satisfying and confirmed that I can do it. But you know, I've just wanted to keep my game going in the same direction in those same things, so it obviously helps. So I'd have to say it's gotten better and I've backed it up with some decent play and a good performance in The Open, which is important, because you don't want to win the Masters and expectations go through the roof and you play poorly. You've got to keep pushing, and I've been really conscious to do that this year so that I can get myself here this week feeling like I'm as good a chance to win as anyone, and can keep the momentum that I've built the last couple years going.
Q. Can you talk about the finishing holes here, the changes to 15, the length on 17 and 18; can you talk about what it's going to take on those finishing holes?
ADAM SCOTT: I think we've got five great finishing holes, a real mix, a mixed bag that will test every player differently. I think it's exciting that 14 is potentially drivable.
And 15, obviously, is an extremely demanding par 3 with a very small green that's going to look really small if you're in with a chance.
16 is pretty straightforward, which is nice. It's almost a slight relief, but to hit a poor shot and make a bogey there would be critical.
Then 17, 18 are just an extreme test of ball striking, really, and nerve. They are two of the best par 4s you could have to close probably. I think 17 is a great hole and 18 has become somewhat infamous over the years with the drama that's happened around there, so it's going to be an exciting finish no matter what.
Q. You said you feel like the next eight, ten years is going to be the best golf of your career. Curious why you feel that way, and sort of at what point did you kind of figure that out?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, it has to be the best golf of my career, really. If it's not, then I won't achieve anything that I want.
You know, I kind of figured that out over the last couple years as I made changes and saw improvement. You know, there was a clear path for me going forward, and then it's quite easy to see what you have to do when your plan starts working out. I don't think about eight to ten years, because that's too long to plan. I think about probably just a week at a time.
But you've got to break it down into smaller bits and try to achieve as much as you can as quick as you can. But I feel physically and mentally, the next eight to ten have to be my best years.
Q. And secondly, what do you like or dislike about this course, in particular?
ADAM SCOTT: There's not really much to dislike that I've seen so far. Like I said, it's presented beautifully. It looks like as far as my game goes, that you've got to drive it in the fairway. It's not necessarily a lot of drivers, but still, the demand is there off the tee for a chance to score. The rough looks pretty long, and I just don't know with these kind of small, circular greens whether you're going to get good opportunities to hit it on the green out of the rough too often.
Q. All of the Majors so far this year have seemed very exciting. How would you characterize this major season, and why would you say it has been the way it has been?
ADAM SCOTT: Partly just because they are Majors, and the buildup to them, there's always a great story. I think golf's in a great place at the moment, so there's always a great story to be had no matter what happens in the tournament.
It's just that time. It's in that cycle where guys like myself or Justin have broken through after being out here a long time, like Phil Mickelson did maybe ten years ago, and he's still winning Majors, which, great, gives me a lot of hope (laughter). And we see Tiger right there, as well. So there's always a story.
You know, Lee Westwood coming close at The Open; I think generally just because golf is in a great spot at the moment, with so many guys playing so well. And people getting to know all these players a little bit, I think is also what makes it interesting for everyone. I feel like they see these guys all the time. Golf is in a great spot, I think.
Q. Ten years ago, Tiger called this the toughest, fairest course he'd ever seen. Of all the championship venues you've been on, where would you rank this one?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, Oak Hill is right up there. I think there's nothing fancy or tricky about it. It's just a good, genuine, fair test, is a great way to describe it. It's right there in front of you. You're not really going to get a bad break for hitting a good shot out here. The good shots will be rewarded and the bad shots will be fairly punished, depending on how bad you hit it. It's going to be one of the best courses that we set foot on all year, and it should be ranked very highly just generally.
It's a pleasure to play a golf course like this. I think it's straightforward golf, and whether you're in the PGA or you're just a regular golfer, I think this course allows anyone to play it.
Q. The fact that the PGA Championship typically has some of the strongest fields in the Majors, given the number of world Top 100 players taking part, does that make it one of the most wide open Majors to win, in your view?
ADAM SCOTT: It's a tough one. It's a very strong field every year. I always feel like The Open Championship is a little more wide open, just because with the course being hard and fast, it almost allows everyone in. You know, length, how far you hit the ball doesn't really come into play at The Open Championship, because you're not cutting off lines, because everything just gets out of control when it's hard and fast.
Whereas, if it rains here or at any other long course, that can really affect what happens to a field. And even if it doesn't rain, it's a big difference if you're hitting a 7 iron in or a 4 iron in. So I always felt The Open, and maybe that's because we saw Watson nearly win at 60, and just the year before that, Greg Norman contended, and obviously they have great experience and know how to play an Open, but it's still possible. I feel that if you can really understand an Open venue, no matter who you are, there's a chance to win, because there's no disadvantage by not being able to do something. It's a different kind of golf.
Q. Kind of along those lines, in very general terms here, these tend to be the softest conditions, because it's in August and it's typically hot, so softer greens, but it also has 136 of the top tour professionals around the world. Does that make it one of the easier ones to win or one of the harder ones to win?
ADAM SCOTT: I don't think any of them are really easy to win to be honest. I mean, thinking about it, logic would say it's tougher. It's got a stronger field. But I think this week, just getting back to the course, we're going to see ... we're looking like good weather and we're going to have a pretty dry golf course, and if it gets fiery, then it will get very challenging, and that changes ... that eliminates the guys that are playing less well, because it becomes so important to control your ball.
But none are easy to win, and I would say the stronger the field, the harder it will be.
KELLY ELBIN: Adam, a lot of questions about how many drivers a player will use on a golf course like this. By the end of your practice round today, will you have a pretty good sense of how many times you'll pull the driver out come Thursday morning?
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, absolutely. Even before coming here, it's a fairly long golf course, it's over 7,000, but if it's firm, I knew there would be a couple less drivers than maybe in 2003. We are all hitting it pretty par.
I hit a few 3 woods yesterday. I even hit 3 wood off the 18th tee. So I think it's going to be a week where the 3 wood comes into play a little bit off the tee, depending on the wind. But that's okay. It's still demanding and crucial to hit the fairway. So actually I'd hit anything just to get it in the fairway.
Q. There has only been one player under par in the last two Majors and only ten players have been under par in the five Majors; would you take even par for the end of the week right now and see where your chances are?
ADAM SCOTT: It would be not a bad bet, would it. You would be in with a chance for sure. Par is going to be a good score, and that's something I'm going to tell myself when I walk off a green and feel disappointed with a par, that I shouldn't be.
I don't know, it may take a couple more. It's all weather dependent obviously, but it's going to be around the mark. It's obvious that that's kind of the benchmark around here, and I would assume nothing will be too different this time around.
KELLY ELBIN: Masters Champion, Adam Scott, thank you very much.
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