If anybody ever feels like writing a textbook on the art of conducting a graceful press conference in the immediate aftermath of a professional disaster, then they should model all the key chapters on Adam Scott.
Probably none of us who attended Scott’s post-defeat press conference quite knew what to expect. It was not “merely” that he had lost The Open; it was the horrendous way victory slipped from his grasp. Scott could easily have been forgiven if he had given in to an overwhelming urge to lie down and weep. It seems reasonable to assume that facing 200 members of the world’s media was not on his list of top ten things he really wanted to do after that final round today.
Yet not only did he front up, he did it with huge grace. He owned up to the scale of his defeat, and did not shy from the ghastly facts which had to be faced. But somehow he did it with miraculous poise. At one point he described himself as being “surprisingly calm all week” – and that calm was never so surprising as when it remained in place in front of the global press this evening. Even when one journalist asked a frankly peculiar question about Scott’s family connections in Lytham – a question pitifully out of place, given the mood – Scott was not only polite and helpful, but actually managed to laugh and appear relaxed about the silliness of the query.
Judging by this press conference, nothing so became Adam Scott as the losing of The Open.
“I know I’ve let a really great chance slip through my fingers today,” he said, his voice level, his tone almost exactly as it had been just 24 hours earlier, when everything was possible and the dream was waiting for him on the horizon. “I can’t justify anything I’ve done out there [today]. I played so well all week. It was a very sloppy finish by me.
“It came down to not making a couple of putts in the last four holes. But I was quite calm. Even in the last few holes, I didn’t really feel it was a case of nerves. I probably spent all my nerves over the 24 hours leading up to play today. Once I was out there, I was completely in control. For me, it all comes down to the shot into 17. That’s what I’m most disappointed with. Yes, I heard the roar from 18 when Ernie sank his putt. But I felt I had everything under control.”
All the more bewildering, then, perhaps, that he is not now the keeper of the Claret Jug. He was wise enough to know that he was numb, and that he might only be engulfed by the full understanding of his loss in the days yet to come.
“It may not have sunk in yet. I haven’t even wound down. I feel like I’ve just walked off the course and it’s a lot to digest. Hopefully I can let it go really quick. We’ll see. I’ve never really been in this position. So I’ll have to wait and see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow.”
When he wakes up? That is assuming he can sleep tonight. Was it only 24 hours ago that Scott assured us he would gain many hours’ overnight rest before his final round, because he is a man who does sleep well? Blissful oblivion may prove more elusive tonight, one fears, and in too many nights ahead.
“I feel fine at the moment,” he said. “I’m a positive guy. I’m optimistic and I want to take all the good stuff that I did this week. Next time – and I’m sure there will be a next time – I can do a better job of it.”
If there is any justice, there will be a next time. We can be sure he will be as graceful in victory as he was today, under the worst circumstances of defeat. Golf is in good hands as long as a man such as Adam Scott is one of its leading lights.