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On the Hot Seat: Adam Scott

2/12/2008 - Golf

Adam Scott will make his PGA Tour season debut at this week's Northern Trust Open, but he has already had success in 2008.

With membership on the European Tour for the first time since 2005, Scott won the recent Qatar Masters by shooting a blistering final-round 61 that included 11 birdies.

The victory was lucky No. 13 worldwide for the 27-year-old, who lists titles at the Players and Tour Championship among his biggest to date.

His major championship record? That's another matter. Scott discusses his renewed priorities toward the big tournaments, his relationship with Butch Harmon and his surfing handicap on the Hot Seat.

Q: Recently, one sports blogger, when asked which current athlete he would most like to be, responded by saying Adam Scott, citing your looks, youth, money, talent and the longevity of top tour pros. So, just how good is it to be you?
A: It's pretty good, to be honest. You know, I go to work in a great office every day, and the amount of freedom that goes with being a pro golfer on the tour is awesome. So I get to enjoy my weeks off away from the course, and then I get to go to work on some of the best golf courses in the world out here.

Q: Along the same lines -- I'm not sure how else to phrase it, so I guess I'll just say it -- the ladies like you. Does that ever get distracting on the course?
A: I wish it did a little bit. [Laughs.] But it creates a fun environment to play golf in.

Q: Do you often notice it out there?
A: I'd be lying if I said I didn't. We're out there for five hours. You've got to look around a little bit.

Q: On to some more serious stuff. Where does winning a major championship rank on your list of priorities?
A: Obviously, No. 1. To win a major championship -- I think, at the end of the day, that's what a golfer's career is based upon.

Q: You have never finished closer than six strokes to the winner in 27 career majors. How come?
A: Well, I really haven't taken my best stuff into a major yet. It's been something that I've struggled with, peaking on those four weeks of the year. I'm working really hard to change that.

Q: What are your feelings going into a major championship week? Excitement? Nerves? Some combination of the two?
A: It's a combination of the two, but I'd certainly like to see the excitement level going up. I think there's more and more excitement now. I'm feeling more and more comfortable in my abilities to win one, so excitement should take over.

Q: Is there one major that suits your game better than the other three?
A: It's tough to say. I think it's all pretty much the same, but if I won one, I'd love it to be the Masters.

Q: More than the British?
A: Yeah, because an Australian has never won the Masters.

Q: Good point. You have been working with Butch Harmon for a while now. What impact has he had on your results?
A: Well, Butch has made my career. I can't praise his work enough. He's taken me from being a decent amateur golfer to being one of the best players in the world, so the work that Butch and I have done and the time he's spent, all credit goes to him for that.

Q: I'm guessing he doesn't give group lessons with you, Phil [Mickelson], Freddie [Couples], [John] Daly and [Natalie] Gulbis all out on the range together, huh?
A: That would be a pretty interesting combination. That could be fun one day, but I don't know how much work we'd get done.

Q: In all seriousness, do you feel like you get enough of his attention?
A: Absolutely. Butch and I have a great relationship. People may think that Phil takes a lot of his time, but before he had Phil, he had Tiger. Obviously, Tiger took a lot of Butch's attention, and I was way down on the totem pole, so to speak, and that's how our relationship has always been. I travel a lot. I don't live in America, so we speak a lot on the phone, and we both like how our relationship works.

Q: It has been said that your swing is comparable to that of Tiger Woods earlier in his career. Do you see the similarities?
A: I used to a lot more than I do now. I think Tiger's swing has evolved and my swing has evolved -- they're not like they used to be. People get fooled because we have a similar rhythm to our swings and that's why they look similar, but if you look at them closely, they're not.

Q: Was there ever a conscious decision between you and Butch to make your swing more like Tiger's?
A: It wasn't really a conscious decision, but the similarities were there from the start. When I was in high school, there's no doubt I was trying to swing like Tiger Woods when he first came on tour. When I finally got to see Butch, he saw the similarities, and sure, we did definitely work on some of the same stuff that he and Tiger worked on.

Q: What do you make of Tiger's performance over the past six months or so?
A: It's phenomenal. Most six-month stretches of Tiger's are. He never fails to impress.

Q: Are there both advantages and disadvantages to playing in the so-called Tiger Woods era?
A: Well, I think so, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Q: What are they?
A: I think he's pushing everyone to become better players, and a lot of guys are better players with him than they'd be without him.

Q: Do you think his accomplishments at such a young age have led to increased expectations for players like yourself?
A: I think so, for sure. The players have learned not to compare themselves to Tiger. But absolutely, he's a phenomenon, and expectations were there for another young player to come through and challenge, but obviously that hasn't happened to this point.

Q: After Woods, who is the world's most talented player? And don't tell me Ian Poulter.
A: [Laughs.] That would be fitting at the moment, wouldn't it? Hmmm … Ernie Els.

Q: Who comes next?
A: Mickelson.

Q: I'm not going to stop until you get to yourself, you know.
A: I'll put myself in next then.

Q: Why didn't you play the Mercedes-Benz Championship last month?
A: I didn't get a rest. I wasn't ready to get back into the tour grind. You know, we play late in Australia on the Australian Tour, into December. I had two and a half weeks off over Christmas, and Christmas can get pretty hectic sometimes, so I just wasn't ready to put my head back on my shoulders and go play competitive golf.

Q: Do you think the PGA Tour's schedule starts too early in the year?
A: Yeah, I do. To be honest, that's a tough date for such a great tournament. The concept of the tournament is fantastic, the course is fantastic and the place is great, but the date is so close to Christmas and New Year's. That's a time of the year when some players would like to get away and spend time with their families or have a holiday.

Q: What would you suggest as an alternative?
A: It's tough, because there are so many tournaments. It's tough to get dates. I just think you've got to look at the number of tournaments and that will sort itself out.

Q: What sort of influence has Greg Norman had on your career?
A: He's been a huge influence. The amount of time that he's given me has really been the incredible thing. For me, looking up to him all my life, then to be able to spend so much time with him throughout my career so far has been incredible. I don't know if there's a better person to give me advice.

Q: He is the one who suggested you remain on the European Tour rather than coming straight to the United States at the outset, correct?
A: Yes, he and Butch. They spoke about it on the phone.

Q: You are from Australia, went to college in Las Vegas and make your home in … Switzerland? Can't imagine there's much golf over there.
A: [Laughs.] I live about 100 yards from the golf course, so yeah, there's a bit of golf. Not this time of year, but then again, you won't find me there this time of year.

Q: Do as many people recognize you in Switzerland as in other parts of the world?
A: No, I keep a very low profile in Switzerland. There are only about 2,000 people in the village I live in, so it's a quiet town.

Q: Last year, Butch told me you were a 12-handicap surfer. Have you gotten into single digits yet?
A: Definitely not. That's annoying, too. But I'll get better eventually. It goes through stages where I surf a lot and get better, then won't surf for six months. It's just so hard for me to get away from golf.

Q: When I asked Will MacKenzie whether he would rather spend an afternoon playing golf or surfing, he had a difficult time coming up with an answer.
A: I know how he feels. I'd like to say golf, but a nice afternoon with good swell is about as good as it gets for me.

Q: Next to surfing in the special interests category of your PGA Tour media guide entry, you list biographies. Read any good ones lately?
A: The last good one I read was about Michael Peterson, who is a surfer, a cult hero in Australia. That was a good one for me because I like surfing, but I actually haven't read a biography in a little while.

Q: So tell me, when the Adam Scott biography is written 25, 30 years from now, what will it say?
A: Adam Scott, wannabe surfer. [Laughs.]

Q: No mention of golf?
A: Yeah, it'll mention golf, absolutely. But I hope there's more to my life than just golf.

Q: Adam Scott, you are off the ESPN.com Hot Seat.
A: Thanks, mate!

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.