Scott sticking to his schedule

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By DOUG FERGUSON, Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Adam Scott on a golf course is a rare sighting this year, although Augusta National was closed to the paying customers Sunday and the Australian had a practice round in quiet.

When he tees it up Thursday at the Masters, it will be only his 10th competitive round this year.

Part of that was due to missing the opening two tournaments in Hawaii while recovering from having his tonsils removed. And part of that is by design.

Scott is looking for the right formula to produce his best performance in the majors. His plan is to practice more and play less.

It certainly worked for him last year, when Scott was among eight players who had a share of the lead at one point in the final round of the Masters. He took the lead with a birdie on the 16th hole, stayed strong with a clutch par putt on the 17th and wound up tied for second when Charl Schwartzel made Masters history with birdies on his last four holes to win by two.

Scott has watched highlights of last year's Masters only once, and that was about three weeks after the tournament.

"It's a huge positive for me," he said. "I should probably watch it more. Everything for me to remember was a good thing."

Even so, there remain questions whether he can repeat that performance, if not do better and win the one major that has eluded the Australians. Scott is fresh, no doubt. But does he have enough rounds under his belt to be sharp?

"I think if he had played rubbish last year, he might try something else," said Geoff Ogilvy, one of Scott's best friends. "But he played so well last year and he really liked it."

Don't get the idea Scott has been sitting at the beach, or in the stands at tennis tournaments watching girlfriend Ana Ivanovic. A big change for him has been settling at Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas, giving him an ideal practice facility close to America.

Scott is confident with the amount of time he has put in. He spent most of the week on chipping and putting, an area that figures to be pivotal in anyone's success at Augusta.

"There's only one guy here this week that I saw work as hard as me," Scott said.

That would be Tiger Woods, but to clarify, Woods is the only other player Scott saw at his new haven in the Bahamas.

So who worked harder?

"I think I did," Scott said, grinning. "It was pretty even. I'd just stay on the putting green a little longer."

The difference between Scott and Woods — besides the obvious 14 majors — is the time they have spent inside the ropes. Woods already has played six times this year, his busiest buildup to the Masters in six years. Woods had close calls in the Abu Dhabi Championship (tie for third) and the Honda Classic (tie for second) until breaking through at Bay Hill for his first PGA Tour win in 30 months.

He is dripping with confidence and has been installed as a favorite this week at the Masters.

Scott tied for 17th at Riviera, was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship, and was two shots out of the lead at Doral going into the weekend until a 74-71 finish put him in a tie for 13th.

That's three tournaments, nine rounds, going into the first major of the year.

"You don't have to compete to be ready to compete," Scott said. "You have to practice. I feel like I have to do enough that my game will hold up for four days of a major. I think I have to put in more work in the past to do that."

A decade ago, two caddies were in a bar in Atlanta during a World Golf Championship, lamenting that their players were at too many tournaments. One of them referred to Woods having the ideal schedule — he would stop playing at the peak of his game, and was energized about playing when he returned.

That's what Scott wants.

"It's a philosophical decision," Ogilvy said. "That's how Greg (Norman) went about it. That's how Jack (Nicklaus) went about it. And Tiger, for that matter. There are big advantages with longevity and enthusiasm. I'm not sure there's a big advantage for sharpness. Your scoring is not sharp if you're not playing a lot of tournaments. But Tiger has made a career of it. And Adam has it worked out at the moment."

Being in the Bahamas helps.

Scott spent the latter part of the year at home in Australia, and his main residence is in Switzerland. For years, his other home was in London, which was not always conducive to proper practice. The weather wasn't always the best, and there were plenty of distractions being on the outskirts of one of the world's great cities.

He is building a home at Albany, and he has been staying at another house there for the last year. The golf course is so quiet that Scott estimates only about 10 rounds are played there each day.

"It's great. It's what I need right now for the next 10 years — my prime," he said. "It's really conducive for me. A great fitness facility. A great practice facility. It's close to the states. It's what I need. I'm in an environmental to be productive in my game. I get so much more enjoyment in practicing really hard and then testing it out."

The big test comes this week.

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