A year ago Adam Scott entered the US Open as the world’s best player. This time he didn’t even get one of 14 pre-tournament media conference slots.
Such is the slide for the 34-year-old Australian, who now sits 12th in the world and without a top 10 finish in three months.
But while world No.1 Rory McIlroy, No.2 Jordan Spieth and even No.195 Tiger Woods hog the limelight, 2013 Masters champion Scott has undergone another meticulous major championship preparation, conducting reconnaissance missions to Chambers Bay, fixing up his putting and re-hiring super-caddie Steve Williams.
While most players have scant experience of the unique, links-style course, Scott arrived a week early, has played it eight times already and will have a further nine holes before Thursday’s first round.
“I have what I think is a pretty good handle on it,” said Scott.
“It’s a course that, probably unless you played it every day for a year, you are going to see something new all the time so you just have to do the best you can.
“The way to handle that is the better you play the less surprises there will be.
“I feel like I have my game in good shape and I feel as comfortable as anyone on this track now. I’ve seen it a lot.”
The Queenslander admits his putting this season has been “worse than average” – he ranks a dismal 192nd in that stat on the US tour – but says finally figuring out an alignment issue should have him in good stead for a course he says suits his long, power game.
That especially so as the inconsistent fescue greens of Chambers Bay are expected to rein in even the hottest of putters.
Scott ranks ninth in driving distance on tour and agrees with fellow Australian Jason Day (6th) that long, high hitters have a distinct leg up this week.
In other words look out for the likes of McIlroy (8th), Dustin Johnson (1st) and Bubba Watson (4th) who are all top-10 drivers of the ball.
But Scott also warned they would need to be straight, and as he ranks fourth in greens in regulation, he is looking more and more like one to watch.
“This is a ball-striking week,” said Scott.
“The greens are not as pure as I am sure they would like them and everyone is going to suffer when it comes to holing out so hopefully great ball striking will hold you in good stead.
“Certainly my results haven’t been as good this year but I have hit the ball well and to sum it up I have putted worse than average to be fair.”
” I simply put it down to poor alignment so I have worked hard on that and I think everything is looking on track.”
Joining Scott trying to bring home Australia’s third US Open title are Day, 2006 champion Geoff Ogilvy, Marc Leishman, John Senden, Marcus Fraser, Kurt Barnes and 21-year-old major championship debutant Cameron Smith