Scott begins defense of Australian Masters title
Adam Scott will attempt to win his third Australian Masters title in a row on yet another renowned Melbourne sand-belt course, and with a tryout caddie on his bag.
Scott went close to winning Australian golf's so-called ''Triple Crown'' last year but Rory McIlroy's birdie on the 18th hole at the Australian Open relegated Scott to second place at that tournament.
On Thursday, Scott begins play at Metropolitan, which is hosting the Masters for the first time. Last year, Scott beat American Matt Kuchar by two strokes at Royal Melbourne, successfully defending the Australian Masters title he won at Kingston Heath in 2012.
No. 2-ranked Scott, with U.S.-based Englishman David Clark as caddie, will then renew his rivalry with No. 1 McIlroy in the Australian Open next week at Sydney.
Scott will also aim to defend his Australian PGA title next month at Royal Pines in Queensland state.
''I am very happy with where my game is coming in,'' Scott said Wednesday. ''I had a good summer here last year, so to keep that momentum would be great. I'm hoping to make it three in a row.''
Scott said he always intended to play in Australia's three biggest tournaments of the year. The only other event that attracts international players in Australia is the Perth International, a joint European Tour event which was held in October.
''If all I have to do to help the game in Australia is play these events, then it is a pretty easy role for me,'' he said.
Others in the Australian Masters field include Americans Kyle Stanley and Boo Weekley. Weekley is also entered in next week's Open at Sydney, joining Scott, McIlroy and Jordan Spieth at The Australian Golf Club. McIlroy won by a stroke last year at Royal Sydney.
The Masters' first appearance at Metropolitan, which hosted the world match play in 2001, comes with some controversy. Recently, a betting agency was confirmed as the primary sponsor of the event, which was first played at nearby Huntingdale in 1979.
At the same time, the word ''Australian'' was deleted from the tournament masthead and replaced with the betting agency name, a move that didn't sit well with anti-gambling groups. It was also too much, it seems, for the website of the century-old Metropolitan club, which continues to refer to the tournament as the Australian Masters and makes no mention of the new sponsor on its site.
The Australian PGA, scheduled for Dec. 11-14, will include Scott, Weekley and former champion Robert Allenby, who is the only golfer to win Australia's Triple Crown in 2005.
Scott was expected to have Clark, who first caddied for him two weeks ago at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, working all three Australian tournaments in the absence of Steve Williams, the veteran former caddie of Tiger Woods.
Williams and Scott parted ways after the caddie said he only wanted to work a part-time schedule next year.
On Wednesday, Scott suggested he might ''use a couple different guys after this week and kind of see where things are at and who is going to fit in best next year in a more permanent position.''
Scott will take a lengthy Christmas break after the Australian PGA and might not return until late January or early February.