x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

British Open: A beautiful swing comes up empty

Adam Scott has the movie star looks, his own private jet, earnings on the PGA Tour of US$26.5 million, but he has no major titles.

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Adam Scott of Australia reacts to a missed par putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club on July 22, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** 149043680.jpg
LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Adam Scott of Australia reacts to a missed par putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club on July 22, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** 149043680.jpg

So the one thing that would validate his prodigious potential continues to elude him.

Adam Scott has the movie star looks, his own Gulfstream private jet, almost 20 professional wins worldwide, earnings, on the PGA Tour alone, of US$26.5 million (Dh97m) and blue-chip sponsors in Rolex and Mercedes-Benz.

Success all gleaned from a swing apparently transposed from Tiger Woods, the game's great 14-time major champion.

Only Scott has not charmed even one of the four most precious titles.

He may never have a better chance than at Royal Lytham; the questions about his big-game temperament, rather unfair considering his already remarkable CV, will no doubt resurface.

The Australian with the affable attitude and laid-back leaning had promised so much so young, having sealed his first European Tour triumph a year into his professional career.

Another four victories soon followed before Scott coolly collected the 2004 Players Championship, golf's so-called fifth major. A Green Jacket, or a Claret Jug, seemed the natural progression.

Yet while Scott would continue to shine - third on the American money list in 2006 elevated him to the world No 3 spot - majors eluded him.

Then, in 2009, he reached his nadir. He struggled outside the world's top 50 and the PGA Tour's top 100 money list.

He needed a lifeline and was given one by Greg Norman, the man he idolised when growing up and who controversially included him in his Presidents Cup team, which steered Scott back, we thought, on to the path to perfection.

He looked ready to reached his destination, via a tied-second at last year's US Masters and a World Golf Championship win at Bridgestone. However, the 32 year old probably feels further away than ever from golf's top table; the question of "will Scott ever fulfil his potential and win a major?" gaining new weight in the north west of England.

With four holes to go, the Claret Jug was well within his grasp. Bogeys at 15, 16 and 17, though, dragged him back level with Ernie Els, the South African, a three-time major champion, appearing relaxed on the practice putting green as Scott toiled down the final hole. When his par putt slipped to the left of the cup on 18, so did his chance to join the game's greats.

The cruel crucible of major golf can do strange things to the most imperturbable of men, and Scott might never recover from his collapse. The swing, admittedly, remains a beautiful fusion of poise and power - as swashbuckling as Tiger Woods in his pomp - and the recent proficiency with the broom-handle putter, in all but four horrid holes last night, suggests this could still be a man of major constitution.

But even though today's landscape, after the era of Woods's inscrutable domination, boasts a strange unpredictably - Els is the 16th consecutive different major winner - the manner of Scott's defeat will gnaw at him for some time.

He has always had the game. He has always had the reputation.

Yet the man who once featured on Esquire magazine's best-dressed list continues to struggle to wear well the weight of expectation.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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