Ice water can still run through the Queenslander's veins.
THERE must be times when Adam Scott feels like a concert violinist playing the bongos. There is such a fierce spotlight on the things he cannot do - putt with sufficient reliability, win a major - that even his deepest admirers can overlook the things he does better than almost anyone on the planet.
But not on Sunday, as Scott put a frustrating year behind him and provided a belated reminder of his still under-appreciated gifts. Chiefly, the ability to swing a golf club so smoothly he does not merely strike the ball, but a selected dimple.
By adding the Australian Masters' gaudy yellow jacket to an otherwise impeccable wardrobe, Scott will not eclipse memories of his British Open meltdown. However, as he said, ''It was good to be in that position and close out a tournament.'' Particularly after an epic 36-hole struggle between two world-class players on a challenging course.
Yes, the atmosphere at Kingston Heath was far more subdued than the tense closing stages of a British Open. Still, having arrived determined to break his seasonal duck, there was more than the $180,000 first prize - loose change in the incredibly well-remunerated world of top-flight professional golf - on the line.
As Scott said, in a sport where victories are rare, winning is a habit best retained. More so when you have lost so publicly, and so spectacularly, on the biggest stage. So, from this relatively minor achievement, there will be good memories from which Scott can draw next time he is in contention at a major. There is no salt in his wounds.
''When you get tight, bad things can happen,'' he said, speaking with authority. Back-to-back rounds of 67 proved that ice water can still run through the Queenslander's veins.
Pertinently, Scott stared down a tenacious competitor with a head-to-head record so imposing that he makes the Sydney Swans look like a bunch of surrender monkeys. At this year's Ryder Cup, the American crowd had taunted Ian Poulter on the final day by chanting ''Major winner! Major winner!'' as his singles opponent, US Open champion Webb Simpson, came to the first tee. By the end of the day, Poulter had won his fourth point of the series, and Simpson, and his American teammates, were the major losers. On Sunday, at the 12th, Poulter found more bunkers than the Third Reich. Yet, somehow, he rolled in a putt for a bogey with his sixth shot - all of them from off green. Amid some brilliant strokeplay, that was the best indication he would not let Scott win without a fight.
It was not until the 17th green, where Poulter missed a tap-in par putt, that the tournament was effectively decided - although the four-shot margin after Scott's exclamation mark of a birdie at the last was deceptive.
If the field had as much depth as the entries in a year 7 poetry competition, it was still a tournament Scott had to find his best to win. On Saturday, he had to cling on while Poulter put on a clinic. On Sunday, he had to conquer any lingering self-doubts.
He did so with the type of calm control that went missing at Royal Lytham, where he had produced a strange array of poor shots, minor misjudgment interspersed with solid strokes. Those will be the moments that to most still define Scott's year. But, as he proved on Sunday, they do not define his game.
Poulter bristled when it was suggested Scott's competitors might find him vulnerable down the stretch. ''You're mocking him,'' the Englishman said. ''Give the guy a bit of respect.'' But, rather than merely being given respect, Scott had earned it.
The man who provided the telling reminder of the suffocating pressure of professional golf was Matthew Guyatt. Halfway leader at 10 under, the 37-year-old journeyman finished tied 10th after shooting 75-78 on the weekend. The happy-go-lucky Queenslander embraced the support created by his rags-to-riches tale, perhaps a little too tightly. A cheque of $21,250 would have seemed like a small fortune on Thursday morning. Inevitably, it was scant consolation for an opportunity lost.
But Scott did not lose his chance. ''Maybe I could turn it green,'' he said, regarding his ill-fitting yellow jacket. That will be a matter of do, not dye.