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Scott: Celebration will be a blinder if I win The Players again!

I think The Players is an event every player wants to win. Certainly when you’re talking about the greats of the game and major champions, you want The Players to complement all those other great wins.

To get a Players win early in my career in 2004 was amazing – TPC Sawgrass is such a fantastic venue. I think it’s wide open to everyone who competes that week and it really comes down to the best player winning most of the time.

It’s an event I have really fond memories of and I’ve always enjoyed playing there, so it would be fantastic to win it again 20 years on. To me, it’s an event like the majors, that it is revered around the world.

Image provided by PGA Tour
Image: Image provided by PGA Tour

Obviously going back to TPC Sawgrass every year is helpful and the famous island green on the par-three 17th hole has become notorious in the game of golf and we’ve seen so much drama over the years. I think by having a large list of international winners, it certainly has a special meaning around the world.

The players feel a real ownership of the event and a real pride in the event. I think the venue has held up over the years too despite all the developments in the game. It’s a great test and a great venue, and it is one of my favourites every year.

Since my Players win, I’ve played a lot of golf and I’ve travelled a lot but in other ways, I still have such vivid memories of winning the tournament that it was almost like yesterday. I have those feelings over the last few holes still fresh in my memory.

Winning The Players was a huge deal at that point in my career. It is certainly one of the biggest tournaments and is clearly above all other tournaments on the PGA Tour. For a 23-year-old kid to become the youngest winner back then and to beat a great field, on an incredible test of a golf course, was a big boost for my career.

2004 The Players Championship at the TPC at Sawgrass. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL .. Chris Condon/PGA TOUR..Scott, Adam..
Image: Scott’s Players Championship victory was his second of 14 PGA Tour titles so far

Some things fall in your favour when you have these wins. Sometimes it’s a bit of luck. I think playing with Ernie Els in the third round was a calming thing for me and I played quite well alongside Ernie. That gave me a lot of confidence going into Sunday, even though I wasn’t playing with him in the final round.

I was feeling pretty good after making birdies on 11 and 12 and it was around the 14th hole when I saw Padraig Harrington had posted a number in the clubhouse and I think I was two strokes in front at that time. All of a sudden, things became a bit more difficult.

Getting into the clubhouse in any big championship is tough and after I bogeyed 14, the pressure started to build because I was only one or two ahead. On the par-five 16th hole, I had a good pitch shot in but I was a really nervous with the putt because it felt like this is one you should make and be three ahead with a couple to play. I unfortunately missed the birdie chance and that created a lot of pressure going into 17 and 18.

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Sky Sports Golf’s Rich Beem explains the challenges of the notorious 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.

It really is just a wedge into the 17th island green but stranger things have happened. I was confident hitting the wedge and I aimed for a very safe place in the middle of the green, so that gave me a big target to hit. At that time, you’re just hoping to get out with a par, which was what I did, and then play a good 18th hole.

Anytime you’re leading a tournament, it’s very hard not to race ahead and think about winning, or think about what comes with that. I was doing a pretty good job but I kind of had an in-between yardage with my second shot into the 18th green and that’s where I became unstuck and hooked a six iron into the water.

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I was very nervous on that subsequent pitch shot, which was my fourth. Pitching wasn’t a strong suit of my game back then but I’ve been working hard at it earlier that week. You just somehow clear your mind and go with trust and I hit a pretty good one to about eight feet.

I clearly remember not being so nervous over that final putt. I don’t know whether it was a really confident read or what it was, but I felt very calm and made it for the win. In the past, I’ve been incredibly nervous where your hands feel like they’re shaking. It was at the time to win the biggest tournament of my career and what an opportunity that is.

2004 The Players Championship at the TPC at Sawgrass. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL ..Rusty Jarrett/PGA TOUR..Scott, Adam....
Image: Adam Scott won The Players on his debut in 2004

We went back to Stuart Appleby’s house in Orlando later that Sunday evening as I didn’t have a place back then in the States. There wasn’t any huge celebration, which is disappointing because young Adam definitely didn’t fear a celebration!

What was great was my girlfriend was there, who’s now my wife, my coach Butch Harmon was there and it’s one of those big moments in my career where I have special memories about winning that afternoon. Maybe I have to make up for not celebrating 20 years ago and have an absolute blinder if I win again!

Watch Scott and the PGA Tour stars in action at The Players this month live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the opening round begins on Thursday from 11.30am on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – just £21 a month for 12 months. No contract, cancel anytime.

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