sport

Scott relishing Sawgrass test

Adam Scott has defended the world ranking system which means he might have been better off staying at home rather than being at the Players.

Scott is one of four players who can overtake Tiger Woods at the top of the rankings at Sawgrass, with the defending champion absent after undergoing back surgery just before the US Masters.

But the complicated way the points average is worked out over a two-year period means that unlike Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, Scott would have become number one for the first time by not playing an event often labelled golf's "fifth major".

"See you later guys!" the world number two joked when told of the quirk at his pre-tournament press conference. "I didn't know that so I haven't been thinking about number one that much obviously.

"I am here to win golf tournaments and from that you can get to number one in the world if you win enough, often enough.

"I've had a couple of good chances this year already and haven't been able to pull it off [he blew a seven-shot halfway lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational] not because it's been weighing on my mind but I just wasn't sharp enough playing the last couple of rounds at a few events.

"I think the work I have done since the Masters has been good and hopefully it's going to hold up this week and I would love to win this tournament and ascend to number one that way, not just look for a position to do so."

Assuming he does indeed play on Thursday, Scott may only need to finish inside the top 16 to become the second Australian after Greg Norman to become world number one.

But Stenson needs to finish inside the top six, two-time Masters champion Watson needs solo second place or better and Kuchar simply has to win.

"It's just the way it is," Scott added. "It's a very hard system to perfect with tours all around the world, people playing everywhere and awarding fair points for everything.

"I think they've come up with the best they possibly can and I think have been fairly accurate over the years.

"Of course there is always the odd one that doesn't quite make sense and if I sit at home this week and watch everyone and end up number one it's a bit odd, but it's a complicated system and I think the rankings are pretty fair overall.

"Playing the Players Championship means more to me than sitting at home just to get to a number one world ranking."

Scott won the Players in 2004 aged 23 and admits he failed to make the most of such an important victory, while in contrast learning more from his collapse in the Open Championship at Lytham in 2012.

Four shots clear with four holes to play, Scott bogeyed all of them and lost out by one shot to Ernie Els.

"I think I interestingly took the wrong things out of winning the Players at a young age and took all the right things out of losing an Open Championship and made the most out of it," the 33-year-old added.

"I didn't make the most out of winning this tournament, inexperience and being a bit naive at that point probably worked against me and I didn't realise to keep going up to that next level how much harder I would have to work.

"You just think it's all going to come along, everything did to that point in my career and I kept winning and playing good, but I never really performed like that in any bigger events for a while.

"Winning the Masters last year I thought I can't waste this chance and the momentum and confidence it gives me and I think I did a good job of that."

Since the tournament moved to Sawgrass in 1982 only Hal Sutton, Steve Elkington and Woods have won twice, while just Sutton (1983) and Craig Perks (2002) have won in their first appearance since Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural event in 1974.

Scotland's Stephen Gallacher is one of the debutants this week and told PGATour.com: "Playing in the Masters (for the first time) and now the Players is one of these things I've looked forward to for pretty much all my professional career, 18 years.

"To be here now and play in it has been a long time coming but I am looking forward to it. You only need to look at the people who have won it to tell you the stature of the tournament.

"It's iconic, the course with the 16th, 17th and 18th. I am just looking forward to getting out there and playing."