Golf | Aussie Scott goes for PGA win hat-trick

Miami – Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters
champion coming off triumphs in his past two starts, tries for his third win in
a row starting on Thursday at the PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The annual showdown at Bay Hill will see
the 35-year-old Australian join Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and American Brandt
Snedeker for the first two rounds at the par-72 Orlando layout.

Scott settled for second at Riviera near
Los Angeles, then won at PGA National and at the World Golf Championships event
at Doral in back-to-back weeks.

After spending a week off at home in the
Bahamas and not touching a club for five days, Scott returns to competition on

“I don’t really know how long I can
keep it up,” Scott said of his sizzling play. “You’ve got to take
advantage of it while it’s there, that’s the big thing, and obviously I feel
confident I can play well this week.

“Nothing feels any different than when
I left Doral and I’d like to get myself in that position to win again this week
and keep it running.

“To use examples is not the best but,
you know, Tiger (Woods) kept running for about 10 years.”

Woods, a 14-time major champion still
side-lined indefinitely after back surgery, has won eight times at Bay Hill.

A victory this week would make Scott the
first player to win three consecutive starts since Rory McIlroy in 2014, when
the Northern Ireland star won the British Open, took the WGC Bridgestone
Invitational two weeks later and added the PGA Championship a week after that.

Scott said that he could feel his game
reaching higher levels and has pushed to make the most of that, especially with
the Masters – the year’s first major tournament – coming up next month at
Augusta National.

“My game was falling into a good spot
and I really wanted to take advantage because there were some memories of the
last couple of years where I didn’t quite,” Scott said. “Certainly
last year even the few times I was in contention didn’t win, so that was kind
of fresh on my mind.”

Scott was third at Bay Hill in 2004 and in
2014. He seized a seven-shot lead after 36 holes two years ago and led by three
after 54 holes but shot 76 to lose.

In his earlier Florida starts, Scott edged
Spain’s Sergio Garcia by one stroke at the Honda Classic and edged two-time
Masters champion Bubba Watson by a shot at Doral.

Scott will be tested by some of the world’s
top-rated players this week, including second ranked McIlroy and world number
three Jason Day of Australia.

But Scott is 35-under par over his past 12

“When you are in that position, it’s
almost automatic that you get into contention,” McIlroy said of Scott.
“You are almost on autopilot that you turn up the tournaments and it’s not
like you’re nonchalant or complacent in any way. But if you play your game,
you’re going to have a chance come Sunday. Then it’s about being mentally the
toughest on the back nine on Sunday to get the job done.

“He’s playing, very, very well. He
seems very confident with his overall game.”

McIlroy has shown strong form as well,
standing two off the lead at Riviera before a closing 75 took him out of
contention. At Doral, he led by three shots entering the final round but shot
74 to share third, two adrift of Scott.

It’s a good position for Scott as the only
Australian to ever capture a green jacket ponders his second Masters crown in
four seasons.

“Hopefully I haven’t peaked too early,
but the point is to try to get yourself ready for every tournament you play and
managing your schedule and managing how much energy you spend practicing and
playing and then understanding what it takes out of you when you’re playing in
contention and then resting, getting ready to go again,” Scott said.

“It’s just a matter of finding that
formula for you. I’m always trying to ask myself the question and be honest do
I need rest, do I need practice, what suits me right now.”

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