x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Adam Scott hopes that his practice will be rewarded at Augusta

The Australian finished joint second in the 2011 competition behind winner Charl Schwartzel.

Adam Scott is looking to be a contender at Augusta this week.
Adam Scott is looking to be a contender at Augusta this week.

Adam Scott on a golf course is a rare sighting this year. When the Australian tees it up on Thursday at the Masters, it will be only his 10th competitive round of the season.

That is partly because he missed the opening two tournaments in Hawaii while recovering from having his tonsils removed, and partly by design.

Scott is looking for the right formula to produce his best performance in the majors. His plan is to practice more and play less. It certainly worked last year, when Scott was among eight players who had a share of the lead at one point in the final round of the Masters.

He took the lead with a birdie on the 16th hole, stayed strong with a clutch par putt on the 17th and wound up tied for second when Charl Schwartzel made Masters history with birdies on his last four holes to win by two.

Scott, who played a practice round at Augusta National on Sunday, has watched highlights of last year's Masters only once, and that was about three weeks after the tournament.

"It's a huge positive for me," he said. "I should probably watch it more. Everything for me to remember was a good thing."

Even so, there remain questions whether he can repeat that performance, if not do better and win the one major that has eluded the Australians.

Scott is fresh, no doubt. But does he have enough rounds under his belt to be sharp?

"I think if he had played rubbish last year, he might try something else," Geoff Ogilvy, one of Scott's best friends, said.

"But he played so well last year and he really liked it."

Do not get the idea Scott has been sitting at the beach, or in the stands at tennis tournaments watching girlfriend Ana Ivanovic. A big change for him has been settling at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas, giving him an ideal practice facility close to America.

Scott is confident with the amount of time he has put in. He spent most of the week on chipping and putting, an area that is expected to be pivotal in anyone's success at Augusta.

"There's only one guy here this week that I saw work as hard as me," Scott said.

That would be Tiger Woods, but to clarify, Woods is the only other player Scott saw at his new haven in the Bahamas.

So who worked harder? "I think I did," Scott said, grinning. "It was pretty even. I'd just stay on the putting green a little longer."

The difference between Scott and Woods - besides the obvious 14 majors - is the time they have spent inside the ropes. Woods already has played six times this year, his busiest build-up to the Masters in six years. Woods had close calls in the Abu Dhabi Championship (tie for third) and the Honda Classic (tie for second) until breaking through at Bay Hill for his first PGA Tour win in 30 months.

Scott tied for 17th at Riviera, was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship, and was two shots out of the lead at Doral going into the weekend until a 74-71 finish put him in a tie for 13th.

That is three tournaments, nine rounds, going into the first major of the year.

"You don't have to compete to be ready to compete," Scott said. "You have to practice. I feel like I have to do enough that my game will hold up for four days of a major. I think I have to put in more work to do that."