Adam Scott drove the ball 35 yards, and that is not a misprint. And he still might win

·4 min read

Adam Scott is tied for third going into the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship, but you would have been able to out-drive him on hole No. 18.

I’m really not kidding. On the final hole of the day, the 42-year-old Scott tried to get a little cute. But he instead yanked his drive so far to the left that it hit a tree and bounced back toward him, close enough that he could have thrown a golf club further than the ball actually went.

The drive’s official length?

A whopping 35 yards.

“I tried to cut one off the creek,” Scott said, “and I pulled it, and it hit the tree right off the tee and just dropped in front of the tee box. It’s a long par-4 that way.”

Scott said that while smiling, and he could afford to smile after his third-round 67 on a sunny Saturday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

With 440 yards left to the 475-yard 18th hole after that initial drive, Scott still finagled his way to a bogey, which left him at 11-under-par and tied for third place going into Sunday’s final round.

Scott sits five strokes behind leader Wyndham Clark, a high school buddy of former Carolina Panther Christian McCaffrey in Colorado. Clark torched the Quail Hollow course with a third-round 63.

While Clark is in search of his first PGA Tour win, Scott has won 14 times on the PGA Tour and many more times than that internationally. The Australian was once No. 1 in the world and remains popular with fans, some of whom were debating the color of his golf shirt Saturday as he waited at a tee box.

“You look good in pink, Adam!” one female fan yelled at one point.

Then a friend whispered something to her.

“I mean, you look good in dark salmon, Adam!” she yelled again.

Others thought the shirt was actually a shade of red, but that was beside the point. What was the point is that Scott, mired in a slump throughout most of 2023, has a chance to record his first top-10 of the season in his ninth start. It has been a nondescript season for him thus far, personified by the fact he has managed to finish tied for 31st in a tournament not once, not twice, but three times in the past two months.

“It’s been hard not to be frustrated because there isn’t one thing that I can really put my finger on why I’m not getting better results,” Scott said Saturday night. “I play OK every week, and OK kind of sucks on the PGA Tour. So I’m nowhere with anything. This business is all about results, so that’s what I’m looking for tomorrow.”

Scott won his last tournament in February 2020, just before COVID shut the world down. He stayed in Australia for months after that with his family, reconnecting with his roots, and was the last of the top-30 golfers in the world to return to competitive action.

But since he’s come back his results haven’t been the same. Scott seems in many ways to have been an ideal target for the rival LIV Golf tour, as an international star whose days at No. 1 are long behind him. And Scott was targeted by LIV, but ultimately rejected those overtures and went all-in with the PGA Tour, where he is now the chairman of the PGA Tour’s player advisory council.

Wyndham Clark shot a sizzling 63 Saturday. He enters Sunday’s final round at the Wells Fargo Championship with a two-stroke lead over Xander Schauffele.
Wyndham Clark shot a sizzling 63 Saturday. He enters Sunday’s final round at the Wells Fargo Championship with a two-stroke lead over Xander Schauffele.

A win Sunday would not be out of reach for Scott, but he will need to make up five strokes on Clark and three on second-place Xander Schauffele, who shot a 64 on Saturday and still only had the second-best round in his twosome due to Clark’s sizzling 63.

Of Saturday, Scott said: “I thought I played really solid, the kind of round you’d want. But when the guy leading lights it up, you’re left searching a little bit like, ‘What do I need to do?’ ”

To win, Scott hypothesized before the third round ended, he would at least need to shoot a score that would catch where the leader finished after the third round. That turned out to be a 66 — Scott needs a 5-under score to go from 11-under to 16-under. Then he would have to hope Clark cools down a little.

“I think the course was gettable today,” Scott said. “The tee boxes were up and the pins were kind of in the ‘go’ zone. So we’ll see how they set it up (Sunday). (I will) hopefully get within striking distance.”

And then, if he does, you can bet he’s going to hit it more than 35 yards.