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Scott Proves That He Learns His Lessons Well

Chipping tip from Greg Norman helps the 23-year-old become the youngest winner of the Players Championship.

March 29, 2004|From Associated Press

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Adam Scott was on the verge of going from champion to hard-luck loser, his face awash in disbelief after pulling a six-iron into the water on the final hole with a two-shot lead.

Scott couldn't help but think of his idol, Greg Norman. Not because of the shot he had just hit, but the crucial chip he was about to play.

Relying on a short-game lesson he got from Norman on the eve of the Players Championship, the 23-year-old Australian made it pay off just in time Sunday, hitting a delicate pitch to 10 feet and making the bogey putt to become the youngest champion in golf's richest tournament.

"I probably would have lost the tournament if I was chipping the same way I did earlier in the week," Scott said. "I probably wouldn't have been standing on the last with a chip and a putt to win. I definitely did make the most out of that chipping lesson.

"I owe Greg a beer."

The 10-footer was true as soon as it left his putter, and Scott thrust his fist into the air twice, then threw his cap down in relief. He closed with a two-under-par 70 and won $1.44 million from the $8-million purse.

"It's a roller-coaster of emotion," Scott said. "I hit such a good chip. And once I knew the putt was pretty straight, I didn't let myself think about anything else but making the putt."

Padraig Harrington shot a 30 on the back nine of the TPC at Sawgrass, tying the nine-hole tournament record, and closed with a 66 that suddenly looked like it might be enough to get into a playoff.

He was on the practice range, getting details from his wife on his cell phone, listening to the crowd to determine if he would play another hole.

The final cheer was among the loudest of the week.

"It sounded like it went in," Harrington said, a runner-up for the second year in a row.

The final hole overshadowed an otherwise brilliant performance, as Scott attacked early to build a five-shot lead, made some clutch chips as the lead was dwindling, then made the most important putt of his career.

He finished at 12-under 276, and his perks include a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and a three-year exemption to the Masters.

Kenny Perry and Phil Mickelson each closed with a 71, and Frank Lickliter had a 72 to tie for third at 280.

The other big winner was John Daly. Despite closing with an 80 to finish near the bottom of the pack, he got into the Masters by finishing in the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list.

Daly would have been out had Perry finished alone in second, and it appeared that might happen until Harrington made his late surge and Perry faltered.

Scott won for the second time on the PGA Tour.

He is only the sixth winner of the Players Championship who has not won a major championship, but that now looks like it's only a matter of time.

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