By Doug Ferguson
AP Golf Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. — Adam Scott went nearly two years without winning and now looks like he can’t lose.
Over three straight weeks, he was runner-up at Riviera, won the Honda Classic and then rallied to beat Rory McIlroy in the Cadillac Championship at Doral. It brought the Australian back into the conversation of golf’s elite, and it raised a pair of questions going into the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
How long can he sustain this great run?
With the Masters less than a month away, is it possible that Scott has peaked too early?
“I don’t really know how long I can keep it up,” Scott said Wednesday at Bay Hill, where players are raving about the condition of the course. “You’ve got to take advantage of it while it’s there. That’s the big thing and obviously, I feel confident I can play well this week. Nothing feels any different than when I left Doral, and I’d like to get myself in that position to win again this week and keep it running.”
No one had ever won the opening two legs of the Florida swing since Doral began in 1962. Scott went home to the Bahamas last week, where he didn’t touch a club for four days because he needed rest more than practice. Now he goes for a third straight victory.
He couldn’t help but laugh when he mentioned how Tiger Woods kept a hot streak going “for about 10 years.”
Whether he is using up all his great chances before going for another green jacket at Augusta National is impossible to predict. Fifteen years ago, when there were rumblings that Woods was going through a slump, Woods won Bay Hill and The Players Championship in successive weeks, and then won the Masters.
“I think guys like Tiger and some of the best players of history have shown that they can sustain a high level of golf for fairly long periods of time,” Scott said.
Scott said the Arnold Palmer Invitational is a tournament he would love to win for no other reason than the host.
The 86-year-old Palmer is not as visible this week as in years past, though he has been seen driving a cart and watching his grandson, Sam Saunders, on the practice range. He is slowing down, his speech isn’t as sharp and his hearing not as clear, so he is taping interviews for the telecast this week.
It only deepens the appreciation of all that Palmer has meant for the game.
“The most dynamic, impactful player in the history of the game,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said.
In some respects, Scott has a score to settle. He tied records for 18 holes (62) and 36 holes (130) two years ago when he had a seven-shot lead going into the weekend. He closed with a 76 and finished two shots behind.
The field features five of the top 10 in the world, including McIlroy and Jason Day.
McIlroy added Bay Hill to his schedule last year and regrets not coming sooner. His week included lunch and stories with Palmer. McIlroy is coming off a disappointment at Doral two weeks ago, when he lost a three-shot lead in the final round by making only one birdie.
He can appreciate what Scott is going, though.
McIlroy won the PGA Championship in 2012, and then won consecutive FedEx Cup playoff events in Boston and Indianapolis. He won four times and finished in the top five in three other events over his final 10 tournaments of the year. He was even better in 2014 when he won three straight tournaments in a span of four weeks — the British Open, a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship.
His philosophy is to grab it while you can.
“When you’re in that position, it’s almost automatic that you get into contention,” McIlroy said. “You’re almost on autopilot that you turn up at the tournaments and it’s not like you’re nonchalant or complacent in any way, but if you play your game, you’re going to have a chance come Sunday. Then it’s about being the mentally toughest on the back nine on Sunday to get the job done.”
McIlroy played the final round in Riviera with Scott, who birdied the last two holes and finished one shot behind Bubba Watson. And he played the third round with Scott at Doral.
“He seems very confident with his overall game,” McIlroy said.
Scott will see if it carries over at Bay Hill, where Matt Every is the two-time defending champion. Every has had only one other top-five finish during those two years.