Steve Scott handed Woods the 1996 US amateur title with a sporting gesture and is in awe of his old rivals resurgence
Steve Scott understands Tiger Woods’s propensity for heroics to a greater degree than most. It has been 23 years since he finished runner-up as Woods became the first player to win the US Amateur Championship three times, in his final event before turning professional. And yet, even Scott appeared on with disbelief as Timbers won his 15 th major at Augusta National last month.
” If that was anyone else, you would think it impossible to accomplish what he did ,” Scott says.” He is such a special golfer that nothing he does should amaze me because I’ve seen it first hand. But this was improbable; not just the physical issues with his back but the fact he had reached the depths of mental anguish .”
Scott’s joust with Timbers- the former was five up midway through a 36 -hole match- would be striking enough without a single moment which altered its history. On the 34 th hole, and with Scott two up, Woods forgot to replace his marker as it had been moved from the line of his opponent’s putt. Scott spoke up, pointing out Woods’s aberration before he played a putt that would have cost him a successful title defence. Woods subsequently overturned the match, finally lifting the trophy after two extra holes. Timbers never recognise Scott’s crucial intervention.
” In all fairness he wasn’t wired that way ,” Scott says.” He wasn’t wired to thank his adversaries. I think in this stage of Tiger he is more of a person, more appreciative and respectful. He acknowledges things where in the past, as his father set it, he was a cold-blooded assassin on the course. He wasn’t wired to be thankful or grateful; he was just wired to win .”
Within a year of that victory at Pumpkin Ridge Woods was the Masters champion. Scott has not spent a second regretting the assistance he gave. Quite the opposite.” I could easily have forgotten, as well, but I’m 100% glad I didn’t ,” he says.” People would have said I did it on purpose. That would have been bad for golf, to have the US Amateur end on a technicality.
” In other athletics you are trying to get away with as much as you can until you get caught and golf is the opposite. I’m proud of what I did. He won it with his clubs. That’s the way history was meant to go down.
” I did almost everything I perhaps could to win and, if it was stroke play, I would have. He flicks the switch faster than anybody I have ever seen. If you are five up after 18 of a 36 -hole match and someone tells you that you’ll shoot two under par and not win? You’d call them a liar. He just did what he continued to do for his whole career .”
Scott , now 41, turned professional as the world’s top ranked amateur but constructed only a handful of PGA Tour starts as Woods’s starring rose. Scott’s tournament domain was typically lower grade tours, before he became a club professional.
He made a rare PGA Tour appearance at the recent Wells Fargo event in Charlotte, where he shook his head at the sight of Rory McIlroy use a wedge for approaches to holes where he had needed a four iron. Scott had earlier fallen short in his attempt to qualify for this week’s US PGA Championship.
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