He may have provided Australian golf with arguably its finest moment at the 2013 US Masters, but Adam Scott continues to have trouble shedding the unwanted ”choker” tag.
Yet another capitulation, this time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, has brought back the inevitable comparisons with Australia’s most famous blower of leads, Greg Norman.
Scott headed the field by a record seven shots through 36 holes, and was still three strokes ahead when the final round started, but a four-over 76 at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge meant Scott finished third, two shots behind maiden tour winner, American Matt Every. Had he prevailed, Scott would have risen above Tiger Woods to claim the world No.1 ranking for the first time.
The Australian had shot a course-record 62 on Friday, but yet again relinquished a comfortable lead, adding another chapter to his growing catalogue of surrendered buffers. Clearly the most infamous of these was Scott’s performance at the 2012 British Open, where his four-stroke lead on the 15th tee somehow failed to be converted into a first major title, as he was swamped late by veteran South African Ernie Els.
While his play-off victory over Angel Cabrera at Augusta last year released the pressure valve significantly, for native Queenslander Scott, that triumph remains the exception that proves the rule. At the 2011 Masters, Scott had a two-shot advantage with two holes to play, but was overrun by South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel.
Even following his breakthrough at the Masters, the Australian remained susceptible to falling away late on the biggest stage. Again he was unable to hold a lead on the final day of the British Open, bogeying four times on the back nine to finish in a tie for third behind Phil Mickelson. At the US PGA later in the year he had been in front after the first round, but could only manage fifth.
Even home soil has not necessarily provided respite for Scott from his Sunday setbacks. Searching for the ‘‘triple crown’’ of Australian golf last year, he let slip a four-shot cushion and opened the door for Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy to claim the Australian Open at Royal Sydney.
Former tour professional and leading golf analyst Mark Allen was blunt in his assessment of Scott’s ability to handle pressure when speaking on SEN. ”I can tell you this, he is no good with a lead,” Allen said.
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