There they were, two good buddies with drivers in hand on the first tee ready to square off in a round of golf on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon.
A perfect day to have a $5 Nassau bet going.
Actually, there was a bit more money at stake in this match.
Adam Scott took a tidy $1,098,000 home Sunday when he outdueled his friend Sergio Garcia by one stroke in the final round of the Honda Classic on the Champion Course at the PGA National Resort & Spa.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Scott summed up his victory succinctly: “I did what I had to.”
Scott ensured the big payday and the crystal trophy for himself on the 18th and final hole when he made what amounted to a gimme putt of two feet — of course, there is no such thing as a gimme putt on the PGA Tour.
“It was nice that it was just two feet, that’s for sure,” Scott said with a laugh.
Scott, born in Australia, played the par-5 18th conservatively as he had a two-shot advantage over Garcia as they went to the tee. The routine par by Scott brought him in at even-par 70 for the day and he finished the tournament at 70-65-66-70 for a 9-under 271 total.
Garcia, pulling out all the stops on that final par-5 trying to catch Scott, figured he needed an eagle to force a playoff. He managed a scrambling birdie despite hitting into the crowd on his second shot and finished the tournament at 65-69-67-71—272.
Justin Thomas (70) and Blaybe Barber (69) finished tied for third at 5-under, and Graeme McDowell (69) was alone in fifth at 4-under
Scott, 35, not only goes down as the champion but knows he also will be known as the golfer who took a quadruple-bogey 7 on a par-3 in the third round en route to a PGA Tour title.
Sunday’s victory was Scott’s first on the PGA Tour since he won the Crowne Plaza Invitational in 2014. Because of the lack of recent success, the man who has won a Masters and was once ranked the No. 1 player in the world, said, “Yes, I’m relieved. I want to feel somewhat relevant out here when it comes to being one of the best players in the world.”
Winning the Honda Classic will help him in that quest. He is currently ranked 13th in the world and should move into the top 10 with the triumph.
A key hole for Scott Sunday was No. 17, a treacherous par-3 that he parred and Garcia bogeyed, creating the two-stroke advantage going to No. 18.
Scott joked about the rowdy crowd that hangs out at 17.
“On a Sunday afternoon or a Friday afternoon or a Saturday afternoon, it’s the same every time on that hole,” he said. “There are a lot of people having a good time there, and I’m happy for them.”
Translation: There’s a tent serving liquor nearby and fans are doing their best to quench their thirst.
Garcia, 36, said he felt his game was “a little off” all day as he had his only above-par round of the tournament.
“Without feeling like I was swinging that great, I still had a chance , so I am happy with that,” he said. “I hung in there as long as I could, but I know I can play better, and that’s the good thing.”
That said, Garcia gave credit and a tip of his golf cap to Scott.
“Adam played great,” Garcia said. “I don’t want to take anything away from him.
▪ Miami’s Erik Compton finished in a tie for 51st by shooting 68-74-70-73 for a 5-over 285 total. Compton shot had nines of 36-37 on the final day and recorded five bogeys and two birdies.
1. Adam Scott
2. Sergio Garcia
T3. Blayne Barber
T3. Justin Thomas