Jason Day’s win in the individual competition at the World Cup in Melbourne further confirms that the 26-year-old Aussie is one of the game’s best players. He’s already finished second or tied for second in three majors. Can his first major championship be around the corner, as in next year? Predictions are pointless, so I won’t go there. But Day is long on talent, for sure.
Meanwhile, Day also led his partner Adam Scott to a 10-shot win for Australia over the U.S. in the team competition at the World Cup. Scott, the 33-year-old current Masters winner who is ranked second in the world behind Tiger Woods, also confirmed something: that he is brimming with confidence now, only 16 months after making a mess of the last four holes of the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes and losing that major to Ernie Els.
Scott held a four-shot lead with those four holes to go. He was understandably devastated, but at the same time it was apparent that he didn’t think for a moment that he would go backwards from there. Scott won the Masters nine months later. He also won The Barclays in August. This month he’s won the Australian PGA and the Australian Masters, the latter tournament at Royal Melbourne the week before the World Cup there. He finished third at Royal Melbourne, three shots behind Day.
Scott’s play at Royal Melbourne in the World Cup was all the more impressive because he started with a 75. He was going along nicely in the opening round when he drove into the bushes on the par-four 12th hole. He couldn’t find the ball, and so returned to the tee. Scott hit a similar shot. Goodbye. He now had to play five off the tee, and ended up making a quintuple-bogey nine. Yet he had a wry smile on his face after the round. He wasn’t going to let a couple of out of the blue bad swings dent his hard-won self-confidence.
In the second round, Scott shot three-under 68 at firm, fast, fabulous Royal Melbourne. Nice recovery, but he was nine shots behind second-round leader Thomas Bjorn and five behind Day. He shot 68 again in the third round. That put him seven shots behind Day, who led after three rounds.
“I would like to put in a big one tomorrow,” Scott said after the third round. He knew he was capable of putting in a big one. He had the confidence because of what he’d been through: that collapse at Royal Lytham & St. Annes over the last four holes, and months later, a 12-foot putt for birdie that he had made to win the Masters in a playoff over Angel Cabrera.
Scott holed a wedge from 136 yards to start the final round at Royal Melbourne. The shot was only perfect. It landed some 30-feet short of the ice-rink greens and rolled into the middle of the hole like a putt. Scott then birdied the second and third holes. He was four-under after three holes in the final round, and in contention for the individual trophy. The team trophy with Day was a foregone conclusion by then.
In the end, Scott shot five-under 66 and finished those three shots behind Day and a shot behind Bjorn. He had come nearly all the way back after that quintuple-bogey and 75 in the opening round. He had almost won three consecutive tournaments in his home country.
Scott has one more chance to win in Australia. He’ll play the Australian Open at Royal Sydney this week. Day will also play, as will two-time major champion Rory McIlroy. Robert Allenby, the last player to win the Australian PGA, Masters, and Open in the same year (in 2005) is also in the field.
McIlroy referred on the weekend to Scott as a “special talent.” Scott is proving that regularly these days. He said after his last round at Royal Melbourne that he’s looking forward to the challenge at Royal Sydney. Day said that Scott gave him a scare on the front nine, given his surging start. It was fun to spend hours in front of the television and watch the two of them on such a tremendous course.
Meanwhile, Scott is oozing self-confidence as he prepares for the Australian Open. And why shouldn’t he? His fellow countryman, friend, and mentor Greg Norman predicted recently that Scott would eventually overtake Woods as the number one player in the world.
Norman obviously doesn’t believe predictions are pointless. Maybe he has a point here.
RELATED LINK: More blogs from Lorne Rubenstein
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein