What happened to Adam Scott at the British Open was a terrible experience that nobody should have to go through but everyone who plays golf has probably experienced to some point. My Adam Scott moment occurred last Monday at Eagles Landing in Ocean City, MD. This was not a tournament round where competitive pressures can get the best of you, but a recreational round where a personal scoring record was at stake. Having been in both situations, I recognized the similarities afterwards.
Heading out to the course, I had no expectations for good form since I had not played or practiced for two weeks. Just showed up and teed off after pitching and putting for about 10 minutes. The round started off innocent enough with a routine par on #1 and a misplayed chip on #2 that led to a double bogey. I steadied myself with a couple of pars and then reeled off four birdies in five holes to close the front nine in two-under 34. Five more pars and a birdie later, I was at three-under with three to play and knew my personal best score of 2-under was at risk of falling. Normally, I never total my score after nine holes because I try to stay in the moment and not think about score, and I didn’t this time, but trust me, when you are three-under, you know it.
I had actually started to come unglued on the 15th hole and pushed a three-iron layup off the tee into a pond for a lost ball, but managed to save par by draining a big right to left breaking 40-foot putt. Convinced the golfing gods were on my side, I stepped up to the 16th tee, which is a very simple 300 yard par-4 and cold topped a 3-wood into a swamp 50 feet in front of the tee. My brain was running 1,000 mph now and I re-teed, determined not to think about any mechanical thoughts, and I nailed my 3-wood in the middle of the fairway. Unfortunately I was left with one of those in between distances of 66 yards and hit my 56 degree about 50 yards. Three putts later I had a triple and was back to even-par and in a mild state of shock.
Even-par through 16 is great at this course, but I felt like I was 10-over. The 17th is a medium length par-3 and I managed to place my 6-iron about 15 feet under the hole. Still reeling from the three-putt on the prior hole, I got tight and left the first putt about 4 feet short and missed the par attempt. #18 is a par-4 that was playing very short and required only a precision layup with a medium to long iron and then a medium iron to the green with a forced carry over a marsh. My tee shot barely hit the clubface and I left myself an impossible shot from deep rough that needed to fly under a tree and over the marsh. Made it under the tree and no farther – double bogey. So I played the first 15 holes in three-under and the last three in six-over.
The propensity to choke can happen at any time to anyone and to a player of any caliber. What could I have done differently? I thought I was staying in the moment, at least trying to, but it didn’t work. What could Adam Scott have done differently at Lytham? Seems like the urge to protect, get cautious, and think mechanically all work against you, but there has to be a way to stop the bleeding especially when you’re hot and playing well.
What’s your Adam Scott moment? Got any cures?