GOLF: Adam Scott has challenged himself to restore his ball-striking brilliance or get left behind at the LA Open at Riviera Country Club this week.
Usually world-class from tee to green, Scott has excelled on the iconic LA course which favours long and accurate hitting from the US PGA Tour players.
In nine previous starts, the Queenslander boasts a win and two runner-up results among four top 10s.
But the 37-year-old's silky swing seemed to desert him occasionally during a winless 2017, slipping to 25th for strokes gained in approach play after ranking first the previous year.
With perfect conditions forecast this week - a welcome change from the rain interruptions the LA Open has become known for - Scott says it's time to put the foot down.
"It's where my ball striking has got to step up; you need to drive it in the fairway and then hit it in the right spots on the greens and that's what I've done here in the past,” said Scott, who tied for second at Riviera in 2016 before winning his next two events.
"If you don't it becomes really hard to scramble for par.
"But the rough looks a bit (shorter) than previous years, so there should be some lower scores and you can't be afraid to go low with good conditions.
"I'm looking forward to that challenge because it's my favourite course on tour.”
Scott spent December and January fine-tuning his equipment after shutting down following the Australian PGA Championship.
"It's been a while since I've played tournament golf and I've made some changes; I'm actually using the (Titleist) ProV1x ball now and I've also been working with the short putter (again),” said Scott, who used the long, broomstick-style putter at Royal Pines.
The former Masters winner made his 2018 debut at last week's Pebble Beach Pro Am, where he opened with a sloppy 77 and despite improving dramatically thereafter he missed the 54-hole cut.
But Scott says ending an eight-year absence from the event was a good decision as it allowed him to blow off the cobwebs.
"I just wanted to settle in with (the new golf ball); a couple of short irons and wedges went a bit further than I was anticipating (at Pebble Beach),” said Scott.
"There was lots of good stuff from tee to green; the quality of strike was good a lot and I like that because that's a big focus for me this year is to get back to (my best) ball-striking.”
Joining Scott in the field are fellow Australians Aaron Baddeley, Greg Chalmers, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith and Geoff Ogilvy.
Headliners include world No.1 Dustin Johnson, 14-time major winner Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas as well as Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
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