By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
Adam Scott won the first two events of the Florida swing on the PGA Tour last year and appeared to be on a fast track back to the No. 1 spot he held in the Official World Golf Ranking for 11 weeks in 2014.
Instead, the Australian enters his title defense this week in the Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., at No. 7.
Scott captured the WGC-Cadillac Championship the following week, and although he has placed in the top 10 in seven tournaments since, he has not been able to find his way back to the winner's circle.
"I would love to know what it is and how to keep that momentum going, because I only managed to do it three weeks," said Scott, who tied for second in the Northern Trust Open a week before winning the Honda Classic. "My game just rounded into nice shape over the weekend (at Riviera) ... and sniffing a victory really motivated me to go to Honda and take advantage of my game.
"My swing was working and everything was feeling very easy, which doesn't happen in golf very often. And then you get a win and I just tried to get out of my own way the next week and keep swinging the same way and not think about it too much. But after that, when I took a week off, it was very hard to replicate that, and the magic kind of disappeared."
Scott, 36, has 29 victories in his career, including 13 on the PGA Tour, highlighted by the 2013 Masters -- where he became the first and still only Aussie do don the Green Jacket.
There were those who believed, including Scott, that more major titles would follow. However, even though he has finished in the top 10 in six of the Grand Slam events since, Scott has not been able to win another.
"It's hard for me to think that anything I achieve will be bigger than that moment (winning the Masters) in my career," said Scott, whose best finishes last year in the big four were ties for 18th in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship after he finished in the top 10 in at least two majors for five consecutive years.
"But that doesn't mean I'm not striving to win other Masters tournaments or any other big championships. I don't want it to be the one major that I win.
I want to win a handful of majors in my career. I need to get my skates on because it's getting tougher and tougher every year. ...
"I've really focused on winning majors the last few years, and it hasn't quite happened. Last year, I played poorly in the majors, which was disappointing."
And Scott can hear the clock ticking.
Of course, if he doesn't, all he has to do is look at the first three players who held the No. 1 ranking since he gave it up -- Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day of Australia -- all in their 20s.
On Sunday, Dustin Johnson, 32, took the top spot from Day by winning the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Scott, who Down Under was the heir apparent to Greg Norman, tied for 11th at Riviera. He isn't even the highest-ranked Aussie any more.
"There are only a few players who have been very dominant over 40 years old, and it's probably going to be harder, too, as the young 20-somethings are better and better," said Scott, who was 21 when he claimed his first professional victory in the 2001 Alfred Dunhill Championship on the European Tour, two years before he broke through in the Deutsche Bank Championship on the PGA Tour.
"My window might not be closing, but it's not wide open, either. ... I'm putting a focus on getting back to world No. 1 at least once more in my career."
Scott's victories last year were his first two after switching to a conventional putter when his anchored long wand was outlawed by golf's governing bodies, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the United States Golf Association.
He admits his new stroke is still something of a work in progress.
"I really went to it with a lot of optimism and enthusiasm and embraced the challenge of changing back to a different style of putting," said Scott, whose priorities changed when he married Marie Kojzar in 2014, and their daughter, Bo Vera, was born a year later.
"I putted fairly well straight away and then very well at the start of (2016) and not very well since."
Scott, a great ball-striker, knows putting often is the key to winning, especially in the majors.
PGA TOUR: Honda Classic on the Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Thursday through Sunday.
TV: Thursday and Friday, 2-6 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 1-3 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EST on NBC.
LAST YEAR: Adam Scott of Australia claimed his first victory on the PGA Tour since 2014, closing with an even-par 70 to hold off Sergio Garcia of Spain by one stroke. Scott, who also won the WGC-Cadillac Championship a week later for his 13th PGA Tour victory but has not won since, took a one-stroke lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, where he hit his approach shot from 149 yards to within 2 feet. The Aussie survived a bogey on the 16th hole because Garcia also made the same score there, and the Spaniard added another bogey on the next hole before sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on the last to close out a 71. Scott took the lead by playing the middle rounds in 65-66.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Tucson Conquistadores Championship Classic at Omni Tucson National in Tucson, Ariz., March 17-19.
TV: Friday, 9:30-11:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 5-7 p.m. EDT; on the Golf Channel each day.
LAST YEAR: Woody Austin won for the first time on the Champions Tour in his 28th start, salvaging a bogey after hitting his tee shot into the water on the final hole to beat Jim Carter by one stroke. Austin, who added two victories later in the season on the senior circuit after winning four times in his PGA Tour career, took the lead in his closing 7-under-par 65 when he holed his third shot for an eagle on the 15th hole. He also opened with a 65 and had a 70 in round two. Carter, still looking for his first Champions Tour victory after winning once on the PGA Tour, shot 63 in round two, but his closing birdie in a final-round 68 left him one shot short.
LPGA TOUR: Honda LPGA Thailand on the Pattaya Old Course at Siam Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand, Thursday through Sunday.
TV: Thursday through Sunday, 1-5 a.m. EST, on the Golf Channel each day.
LAST YEAR: Lexi Thompson became the first American to win in the 10-year history of the tournament, shooting 4-under-par 68 in the final round to beat In-Gee Chun of South Korea by six strokes for her seventh LPGA Tour victory at the age of 21. Thompson took the lead with a first-round 64 but fell back with a 72 before building a four-shot lead heading to the final round with another 64 in round three. Chun cut into Thompson's lead by making birdies on the first three holes of the final round, but she eventually finished with a 70. The American regained control by making two birdies and an eagle in a span of five holes beginning at No. 6.--Peter Jacobsen, Graeme McDowell, Annika Sorenstam and Curtis Strange will serve as hosts for the 39th Arnold Palmer Invitational from March 16-19 at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla.
Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security and a friend of the Palmer family, also will help fill the roles of Palmer, who died last Sept. 26 at age 87.
"Arnold was a force of nature, on and off the course," said McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion. "We can't fill his shoes, but we can carry on his passion for helping others.
"I live with my family in Orlando and my children were born at Winnie Palmer Hospital, so I've been a direct beneficiary of Arnold's charitable legacy. I'm honored to be part of such a remarkable event."
The group will step into traditional roles held by Palmer throughout the tournament -- greeting players and guests, hosting Pro-Am parties and presenting the championship trophy on Sunday.
They also will take part in events planned to honor Palmer's legacy, including a ceremony the day before the tournament starts.
"Part of my dad's legacy was to inspire others to care about things he thought were important," said Palmer's daughter, Amy Saunders, chairman of Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation. "With the help of his many friends, fans and followers, we intend to keep that light shining brightly."
Palmer's iconic golf cart and clubs will be on display throughout the week overlooking the 16th green, where Arnie most frequently watched the tournament and greeted players and fans.
All proceeds from the tournament support Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation.
--Michelle Wie, who has struggled with injuries and inconsistency the last few years, abandoned her "table-top" putting style after missing the cut in the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic on the LPGA Tour.
Wie, who once was No. 2 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings but was down to No. 182 last week, worked for a week with instructor David Leadbetter in her transition to "The Claw" putting grip used by Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and others.
And, after bending over to putt, Wie is back in a normal upright stance.
"It may take a while for her to get comfortable with it, but she's excited about it," Leadbetter said. "I told her the 'table-top' was well past its sell-by date."
Wie has posted only five top-10 finishes since winning the 2014 U.S. Women's Open, her fourth LPGA victory. She did not finish in the top 10 in 2015, and a tie for 10th in the Blue Bay LPGA was her only to-10 result in 2016.
Not only that, but she also missed the cut 12 times in 25 events after she missed the weekend 18 times in 2015 and on 19 occasions in 2014.
In her first event with the new putting style, Wie tied for 30th last week in the Women's Australian Open.
--Tony Aarts was looking at a 10-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole at Magnolia Landing Golf & Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla., recently, when suddenly he faced another 10-footer.
An alligator came out of a lake alongside the green, grabbed the 75-year-old Aarts by the right foot and dragged him into the water.
Aarts escaped by hitting the gator on the head with his putter.
"My ball was about 10 feet from the pin, and all I could think about was making a birdie," Aarts said. "As I was walking about 5 to 6 feet away from the water, I heard a splash, and as soon as I heard that splash, I knew it was an alligator, and he got me.
"I remember having a club in my hand, and as soon as he had me in the water up to my waist, I started hitting him over the head. I seen (sic) the size of him, you know you can just see the claws as he was pulling me back, and I'm heeling in trying to go the other way, and he's just looking at me and I'm looking at him.
"So I started hitting him in the eye socket. I hit him three times and he let go of my foot, so I crawled back and by that time the guys (his playing partners), they were there."
An ambulance took Aarts to a hospital, where he was treated for multiple puncture wounds to his left foot, while Florida State wildlife officials captured the alligator and put it down.
Aarts had some advice for golfers, especially in Florida: "I guess a golfer should always keep a club in his hand. ... It's a good, solid, heavy putter."
--The European Tour announced the addition of the innovative GolfSixes tournament to its schedule on May 6-7 at the Centurion Club in St. Albans, England, to the northwest of London.
The event will feature two-man teams from 16 countries, with the top players from the Euro's Tour 2017 Exemption Category List on March 13 being eligible.
The top player from each country will pick a compatriot with European Tour membership for his teammate.
"We want to broaden the appeal of our sport to the millennial demographic, and I think this format will do that, not only through the quick and exiting style of play, but also with the interactive digital experience fans will enjoy on site and the innovative television coverage people will enjoy at home," said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said.
"We are also delighted to have brought a country versus country element to the fore. There is no question that the greatest atmosphere in golf comes every two years at the Ryder Cup, and we are keen to try and emulate that national fervor in this format. We are in the entertainment content business with golf as our platform, and GolfSixes is the perfect illustration of that."
The teams will be bracketed into four groups of four on the first day, with each country playing six-hole matches under the greensomes match-play format against the other three teams.
In the group stage, three points will be awarded for winning a match, with one point given for a draw.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals, a consolation match and the final on the second day.
--The LPGA Tour announced that the travel risk management firm Global Rescue will serve as its Official Travel Risk and Crisis Management Provider.
The agreement highlights the LPGA Tour's continued commitment to safety and security for players, caddies and officials when traveling to international tournaments.
The program went into effect last week for the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in Adelaide, Australia.
"Providing the highest level of safety remains a top priority for the LPGA," said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA Tour's chief communications and tour operations officer. "Our partnership with Global Rescue provides an additional layer of security for our Tour abroad."
Global Rescue will provide medical aid, security, evacuation and travel risk management.
The program focuses on medical advisory services, medical transport, security evacuations and travel intelligence through the company's GRID platform, which provides a travel intelligence system on up-to-date information for each destination.
The 2017 LPGA Tour season consists of 35 tournaments, including 13 at destinations outside of North America.By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
It is the beginning of a new era for the tournament that started out as the Los Angeles Open in 1926, when "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper claimed the title at Los Angeles Country Club in what evolved into one of the PGA Tour's iconic events.
Hyundai bought the sponsorship rights and renamed it after one of its models, so the 91st edition of the tournament will be played beginning Thursday as the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
Tiger Woods is now the tournament host and the Tiger Woods Foundation will be the primary charity organization, but he won't be playing because of ongoing back spasms following three back surgeries in recent years.
However, he will be a presence this week not far from where he grew up.
"It feels like we're coming back home," said Woods, who opened the first TGR Learning Lab in 2006 down Highway 5 in Anaheim. "To have all those years we played at Sherwood (former home of his Hero World Challenge), but now to come back to a golf course of this magnitude that's hosted big events and has been doing it for so long, it just feels even bigger for us.
"For me personally, to come back to where it all started? That to me, to come full circle, it's incredible."
Woods and Jack Nicklaus, the two best golfers of all time, are tied to the lore of Riviera and the old L.A. Open, even though surprisingly neither has won on the famed course designed by legendary George C. Thomas.
Nicklaus earned his first pro paycheck of $33.33 at Rivera when he tied for 50th in the 1962 Los Angeles Open. The Golden Bear closed with a 66 in the 1983 PGA Championship at Riviera and finished one stroke behind champion Hal Sutton.
Woods played at Riviera in his first pro tournament as a 16-year-old student at Western High in Anaheim, missing the cut in the 1992 Nissan Los Angeles Open.
In nine appearances as a pro, Woods' best finishes in the tournament were second in 1998, losing in a playoff to Billy Mayfair at Valencia Country Club when the tournament was moved because Riviera was hosting the U.S. Senior Open that year, and a tie for second behind Ernie Els a year later at Riviera.
Ben Hogan played so well at Riviera, a shot-maker's course, that they still call the place "Hogan's Alley."
Hogan, considered by many to be the greatest ball-striker of all-time, won three times on the course in a span of 18 months, capped by the 1948 U.S. Open. His other two victories in that sequence at Riviera came in the L.A. Open, which he also captured in 1942.
The tournament also has been played at Los Angeles Country Club, El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Wilshire Country Club, Hillcrest Country Club, Fox Hills Country Club in Culver City, Rancho Park Golf Club, Inglewood Country Club, Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, Griffith Park Golf Course and Valencia Country Club.
The event moved to Riviera in 1973, and the only year it has not been played there since was the aforementioned 1998.
In addition to Hogan, the tournament's illustrious champions list includes Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, Arnold Palmer, Charlie Sifford, Tom Watson, Lloyd Mangrum, Gene Littler, Ken Venturi, Billy Casper, Hale Irwin, Lanny Wadkins, Johnny Miller, Tommy Bolt, Bob Goalby, Dave Stockton, George Archer, Phil Rodgers, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Craig Stadler, T.C. Chen, Corey Pavin, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Mike Weir, Steve Stricker and Els.
Defending champion Bubba Watson has won the Los Angeles-area PGA event twice in the past three years.
Riviera has been the host of four major championships, the first in 1948, when Hogan captured the U.S. Open by two strokes over Demaret.
In the 1982 PGA Championship, Sutton held off Nicklaus by one stroke, giving the Golden Bear the last of his record 19 runner-up finishes in the major championships.
The PGA returned in 1995, and Steve Elkington denied Colin Montgomerie, one of the best golfers never to win a major, by winning with a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.
In the 1998 U.S. Senior Open, Irwin sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the famed 18th hole, with its natural amphitheater setting, to beat Vicente Fernandez of Argentina by one stroke.
As if the list of champions at Riviera, located right off fabled Sunset Boulevard, isn't enough for name-droppers, among the club's members since it opened in 1926 have been Humphrey Bogart, Walt Disney, Dean Martin, Gregory Peck, Hal Roach, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Glen Campbell, O.J. Simpson, Vic Damone and Peter Falk.
Campbell was celebrity host of the L.A. Open from 1971 to 1983.
Rivera also is where boxing great Joe Louis, also a fine golfer, became the first African-American to play in a PGA-sanctioned event in the 1952 L.A. Open.
Although it didn't happen at Riviera, in the 1938 L.A. Open at Griffith Park Golf Club, Babe Zaharias became the first women to play in a PGA Tour event.
Riviera will only add to its legacy in August when the U.S. Amateur is played there for the first time.
This week, with the likes of Watson, Scott, Els, Stricker, Mickelson, Jason Day of Australia, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker and Justin Rose of England in the field, there figures to be more history made at Hogan's Alley.
PGA TOUR: Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., Thursday through Sunday.
TV: Thursday and Friday, 2-6 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel; Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EST on CBS; and Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. EST on the Golf Channel and 3-6:30 p.m. EST on CBS.
LAST YEAR: Bubba Watson shook off the effects of a kidney stone early in the week to win for the second time in three years at Riviera, making birdies on two of his last three holes to close with an 3-under-par 68 and defeat Adam Scott of Australia and Jason Kokrak by one stroke. Watson, who claimed his ninth victory on the PGA Tour, hit a 334-yard drive on the uphill, par-5 17th hole, ripped a 2-iron approach shot onto the green and two-putted for what proved to be the winning birdie. Scott, who won the tournament in a playoff over Chad Campbell in 2005 after it was shortened to 36 holes because of heavy rain, finished a 67 with two birdies including a chip-in eagle on No. 18, while Kokrak made a costly bogey on No. 15 in a 68.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Chubb Classic on the Talon Course at TwinEagles Golf Club in Naples, Fla. Friday through Sunday.
TV: Friday, 11:30-1:30 p.m. EST; Saturday, 3-5:30 p.m. EST; and Sunday, 3-5 p.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.
LAST YEAR: Bernhard Langer of Germany led virtually wire to wire, opening with a 10-under-par 62 in the first of his four victories in 2016 en route to claiming the Charles Schwab Cup for the fourth time, including three in a row.
Langer struggled a bit in a closing 73, but it didn't much matter since he held a seven-stroke lead heading into the final round and won by three shots over Fred Couples, who carded a 66. Langer also won the tournament in 2011 and 2013, finished second in 2012 and tied for second in 2014. He won this time in his third event since the ban on his anchored putter, as he now moves the long wand away from his chest before making his putting strokes.
LPGA TOUR: ISPS Women's Australian Open at Royal Adelaide Golf Club in
Grange, Australia, Thursday through Sunday.
TV: Wednesday (in the United States), 9 p.m.-2 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; and Saturday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. EST; on the Golf Channel each day.
LAST YEAR: Haru Nomura of Japan earned her first victory on the LPGA Tour, closing with a 4-under-par 68 to beat top-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand by three strokes. The 24-year-old Nomura, who won twice in Japan and added the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in the U.S. later last season, carded three straight birdies through No. 17 and became the first Japanese winner on the LPGA Tour since Ai Miyazato claimed the 2012 Safeway Classic. Ko made her only bogey of the day on the final hole to finish at 67, while Karrie Webb of Australia shot 71 and was seven shots back in third while trying to win the tournament for the sixth time.