Adam Scott is making his first start of the year on the PGA Tour and is hoping he can use the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club as a springboard just the way he did a year ago. And he's hoping he can carry that through the rest of the season this time.
Scott, the seventh-ranked player in the world, shot four rounds in the 60s at Riviera in 2016, finishing tied for second, a shot behind Bubba Watson.
The next two weeks in Florida, he won the Honda Classic and WGC Cadillac Championship.
"My game just rounded into nice shape over the weekend here," he said Wednesday, referring to a pair of four-under-par 67s. "Kind of sniffing a victory really motivated me to go to Honda and take advantage of my game. …
"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 didn't win again last season, though he had top-10 finishes in his last four events.
"I would love to know what it is and how to keep that momentum going," he said, "because I only managed to do it three weeks."
Scott played the pro-am Wednesday with former boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard. "It looked like he was having a good time," Scott said. "I'm sure it's a lot less stressful for him than what he used to do."
Short and (bitter)sweet
The 10th hole is widely regarded as one of the best short par fours in golf, 315 yards to a right-to-left sloping green at a 45% angle to the fairway, guarded by bunkers to the right, left and back left.
It looks inviting from the tee but more and more devilish the nearer you get. Many players hit drivers to get close to, or even on, the green. Some play it safe. Either way, good or very bad things can happen.
"It's the most demanding par four I've ever played in my life, doesn't matter if it's 500 yards or it's 200 yards," said Watson, the winner here in 2014 as well as last year. " 'Demanding' is the nicest way I can say it. There's a lot of other words I can think of."
In the final round in 2014, he laid up on his tee shot to about 80 yards from the green, playing safe while he was in the hunt. To get his second shot close, he had to land the ball in an area about the size of the face on the new Richard Mille timepiece he bought on Monday. He did and made par.
"I got lucky," he said. "I could have easily flown it three more feet and been in the back bunker and made double bogey and lost, right?"
Last year on Sunday, after what he called "the best three-wood I ever hit," he was 20 yards past the green. He knew there was no way he could land a shot on the green and keep it from going over. He told his caddie the only way he could make par was to intentionally hit his second shot in the bunker and try to get up and down from there.
"So, he goes, 'Yeah, and hopefully you get a good lie in the bunker.' I said, 'I'm going to pray just as hard as you.' "
He hit his sand shot 10 feet past the hole and made par.
"There are times I'm not even trying to hit the green; I'm just trying to hit it in a spot where I have a chance to get up and down," he said.
Scott echoed some of the same sentiments.
"It's probably one of the best if not the best short par four there is in the game," he said, adding that the one shot players need to avoid is the one that leaves you 80 yards to the green and requires a shot over a bunker with almost no chance of keeping the ball on the putting surface.
"Then you start going bunker to bunker, back and forth across the green. It's not a lot of fun. ...
"With a good shot, there's a good chance of making a three or a two, and with a poor shot you have a really good chance of making a five or worse. I like it."
Thursday's star groupings: At 7:22 a.m. on the 10th tee, Sergio Garcia-Jim Furyk-Phil Mickelson, followed by Dustin Johnson-Scott-Justin Rose. At 12:12 p.m. on the first tee, Jordan Spieth-Watson-Bill Haas, followed by Hideki Matsuyama-Justin Thomas-Jason Day.