SAN ANTONIO (AP) - When he pulled a 9-iron shot with a half swing on the final hole at last year's Texas Open, Adam Scott admitted he had to go "straight away" to the range to work out the kinks.
That pulled approach shot led to a bogey, though he still won the tournament. And it served as a major step in the comeback of the 30-year-old Australian who nearly won the Masters last weekend.
Scott comes to TPC San Antonio, where his defense of the Texas Open begins with the first round on Thursday, after a final-round 67 at Augusta featured a half-swing of a 7-iron on the 16th tee that ended just a couple of feet from the hole.
The birdie putt gave him the lead, but it wasn't enough to hold off Charl Schwartzel's four-for-four birdie finish to win.
"I was not happy that I pulled a shot at a critical point here on Sunday last year, and that could have potentially cost me the tournament," Scott said. "Finally, I hit a great half shot into the 16th at Augusta on Sunday. "Hopefully something to build on there at Augusta, even though it wasn't the result I wanted in the end, especially late on Sunday when I thought I was right in with a good chance, very close."
It might be easy to forget that Scott was the youngest player to win The Players Championship (23 years, eight months and 12 days) in 2004, and he achieved his high mark in the world rankings at No. 3 (behind Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk) after making the 2006 Tour Championship his fourth win in the U.S.
He won again in 2007 at the Houston Open, but by the time of his inclusion in the celebrated threesome with Woods and Phil Mickelson at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines his game was about to slip. That year, he broke a finger while slamming it in a car door, and he injured a knee while surfing.
When 2009 ended, he had dropped to 34th in the rankings and was 108th on the PGA Tour money list after missing 10 cuts in 19 starts.
He arrived in San Antonio last year as the Texas Open was played for the first time at the TPC San Antonio Oaks Course designed by fellow Australian Greg Norman.
"There were so many different things going on with my game" at the time, Scott said.
But he left with his seventh PGA Tour victory, newfound confidence in his putter and a clear path to improving his short-iron play. He was best in the field that week in making putts from 10 to 15-feet in length.
And now, at the advice from coach Brad Malone, Scott has switched to the long putter seen more often on the Champions Tour.
"Obviously it's working for him, and maybe I should go try that," said Anthony Kim. "Whatever works to make birdies is the right way to go."
Scott has jumped from 30th to 17th in the latest rankings, and he thinks he could keep things going the right direction now that he's back in Texas, home to four of his PGA Tour wins.