In an epic conclusion to a career-changing week, the No. 1 golfer in the world slipped his arms inside a plaid jacket at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and reflected on the significance of making PGA Tour history.
Adam Scott, in his competitive debut as the world’s top-ranked golfer, became the first player to win all four annual tour stops in the Lone Star State.
Completing a Texas Slam, Scott said, added to the magic of validating his No. 1 ranking with a title-clinching birdie putt on the third playoff hole to outlast Jason Dufner, the reigning PGA champion, in a sudden-death showdown.
“This week was going to be a special week in my career, no matter what I did,” Scott said. “I really wanted to play as No. 1. To have won as No. 1 the first week I held it is really cool … some validation, you could say.
“And to finish off the Texas Slam, I think that’s a pretty neat deal. That’s a good Slam to start with. I’ll see if I can find some other kind of Slam eventually in my career.”
Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, has his long-term sights set on completing a career Grand Slam, which would require victories at professional golf’s other three majors. In Scott’s mind, he took a solid step in that direction with Sunday’s gritty victory at Colonial.
Scott, 33, buried a 14-foot birdie putt from the back fringe on the second playoff hole, No. 17, while Dufner was waiting to tap home a 4-footer that would have won the tournament if Scott missed.
But Scott did not miss. Instead, he drained that putt and the one that followed — the tournament clincher, from 7 feet at No. 18 — to cap a nine-birdie performance (seven in regulation, two in playoff) in his extended work day.
He’ll remember both, Scott said, after posting the highest tournament total by a Colonial champion (9 under par) since 1999. But he’ll especially remember the one at No. 17 that extended the playoff when Dufner seemed poised to be fitted for his own plaid jacket.
“The putt on 17 is a must-make,” Scott said. “Jason is 4 feet away, straight up the hill. He’s going to make that 99 percent of the time. When it’s do-or-die, you’ve only got two options. You’ve got to put the best putt on it that you can, free up your mind and trust it.”
Scott did that, forcing the playoff back to the 18th hole, where his pitching-wedge approach from 135 yards settled 7 feet below the cup. When Dufner, also the 2012 Colonial runner-up, missed a 40-footer, Scott seized his opportunity to secure his first victory of the season. He collected a $1,152,000 payday and became the 15th golfer to claim titles at both North Texas tour events in his career.
But the Aussie is the first to run the table in Texas, with victories in Fort Worth, Irving, Houston and San Antonio. Scott said the idea has danced in the back of his mind since he won the 2010 Valero Texas Open, his third triumph in Texas.
“This is incredible. I can’t believe I’ve won them all here in Texas,” Scott told the Colonial crowd after his triumph. “It was on my mind earlier this week, and I thought it would be pretty sweet. ... I like you guys. You’re rowdy. You’re a bit like us Australians. You like to have a good time.”
For much of the day, it was unclear who would be doing the celebrating at the conclusion of a final round that featured one of the most crowded leader boards in tournament history.
At one point, 10 golfers shared the top spot Sunday. The mega-tie lasted exactly one minute before Colleyville resident Chad Campbell buried a birdie putt at the first green to seize a short-lived solo lead at 8 under.
Eventually, the list of contenders narrowed to playoff participants Dufner and Scott. Both players went par-birdie on the first two bonus holes, then split the fairway with their final drives at No. 18. One problem, though.
“I was in-between clubs on the last [approach],” said Dufner, whose shot wound up 40 feet from the pin, opening the door for Scott’s dagger.
With the victory, Scott became the first golfer to claim a Colonial title while carrying the world’s No. 1 ranking. He was the first No. 1 golfer to tee up in Fort Worth since 1995, when top-ranked Nick Price finished 12th as the defending champ.
Scott validated his perch with a pair of 66s in the weekend rounds that trumped a dismal Thursday start. He finished 13 under in his final 63 holes of regulation play and 15 under in his final 66 holes at Hogan’s Alley, counting the playoff. Along the way, the long-hitting Scott said he learned a lot about the nuances of Colonial’s dogleg fairways and the need for a measured approach to prevail in Fort Worth.
“It was a test for me to scale back and to stay patient and just pick my way around the golf course, and very satisfying to come out on top,” Scott said. “I felt like I certainly played like one of the best players in the world out there on the back nine.”
He did even better in the playoff, finishing off a Texas Slam to cap Scott’s memorable first week as the No. 1 golfer in the world.