For more than a decade Adam Scott has hit nothing more than a 9-iron into the first green during THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
On Tuesday, as the tournament returns to a March date for the first time since 2006 and the overseeded ryegrass prevents the ball from rolling out as it did during May, Scott started his practice round by hitting 5-iron into the first.
It’s a dramatic adjustment that will make the Pete Dye masterpiece even more challenging than it has been for the past 12 years according to the 2004 champion.
“I've had one round here in 12 years on the overseed, and it played incredibly long today,” said Scott, who is teeing it up at THE PLAYERS for the 18th time.
“It was a little bit wet because there was a lot of rain last night, but I hit a 5-iron into the first hole, and I haven't hit anything but a 9-iron or a wedge in there for 12 years.
“A lot of other holes are like that too.
“If it does firm up a little bit, even if you're hitting a 7-iron into the first, it's going to require some really good driving and some really good irons. I think it's a great test.
“It was in May too, but it kind of put everyone in the same place when it was firm in the fairways.
“Whether were you a long hitter and hitting an iron off the tee or a shorter hitter hitting a 3-wood or driver, you always got to the same spot, and now it's going to be a little bit less of that.
“You'll have to decide how much you want to challenge off the tee.
“I never really felt like they got a great handle on setting the course up the way they should have in the May date. I felt like they should have taken more rough away and really let the ball run into the trees and the pine straw, run further off greens, and play it really firm and fast.
“It's much easier to set it up well with this kind of rye overseed grass. They can grow the rough and it becomes very much more target golf and this course, certainly around the greens, plays well with that kind of long overseeded ryegrass rough to chip around the greens and test out the short game.”
Scott’s win at TPC Sawgrass 15 years ago was the then 23-year-old’s sixth professional victory.
He has won 23 tournaments in the years that have followed but conceded that after winning THE PLAYERS he expected success in the game’s biggest tournaments would continue.
“When I won here, I won soon again after it, and everything was just kind of trending,” Scott admitted.
“I would have thought, Oh, I'll just fall into to winning some majors along the way, but that didn't happen.
“It took a lot longer for me to get to kind of where I wanted to be, and then even when I was there, I didn't manage to just win all the majors I wanted.
“I didn't realise how hard it was to win big events on a regular basis, and I just won one really early here early in my career and thought it would just keep happening.
“Maybe that was an error. But when you've got the momentum going, why would you look too deep into it?
“It took me quite a while to figure out, all right, it's just not going to happen.”
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