McIlroy and Scott set for Honda reunion

McIlroy and Scott set for Honda reunion
 Adam Scott during the second round of the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield. Picture Eoin Clarke  www.golffile.ie

Adam Scott during the second round of the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield. Picture Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ie

Adam Scott likes to surf but he could end up in Rory McIlroy's wake when he returns after a six-week break at next month's Honda Classic.

The Masters champion went to Hawaii to tee it up in the first two PGA Tour events of the yea, finishing sixth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and eighth in last week's Sony Open.

He's decided it's time to recharge his batteries but his comeback event opposite a revitalised McIlroy at PGA National Resort & Spa from February 24-March 2 promises to be compulsory viewing, even if he is a bit rusty.

While he intends to continue playing golf with his friends, either in Australia or at his Bahamas base, over the next month and a half, he's likely to come up against a far stronger McIlroy than the one that sensationally walked off the course in Palm Beach Gardens after completing just 26 holes last year. 

What happened next has been well-chronicled but as McIlroy showed Scott by snatching the Australian Open from under his nose on the 72nd hole last year (not to mention last week's runner up finish in Abu Dhabi), he's over his 2013 troubles and likely to be a formidable rival for golf's top honours this term.

The majors and especially Scott's green jacket are at the top of the Ulsterman's hitlist with the reward for the man who can pull off the biggest wins likely to be the coveted world No 1 spot currently held by Tiger Woods, who appears likely to play Honda Classic for the third straight year.

As McIlroy prepares to take on Woods in the 25th anniversary edition of the Dubai Desert Classic next week, Scott is thinking about how he is going to build on a breakthrough 2013 season that career highlight moment at Augusta National last April.

 Adam Scott, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are likely to meet again at next month's Honda Classic. Picture: Eoin Clarke  www.golffile.ie

Adam Scott, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are likely to meet again at next month's Honda Classic. Picture: Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ie

As he told the Associated Press at the Sony Open, the euphoria of achieving a lifelong dream evaporated quickly in the heat of formalities and his rapid return to the Tour the following week in Hilton Head.

"That moment of sheer joy is very short. It didn't carry on for days and days. It's numbed by formalities and all those other things. You've got to enjoy getting there as much as what happened. It was only a few hours, and then Hilton Head started, and there's another tournament. It's incredible that a lifelong dream can be achieved, and it's so short."

As Pádraig Harrington has said many times, it's important to celebrate all victories as they come along some infrequently. But Scott's "problem" is that faced by all first time major winners - the encore.

"I don't know how anything could surpass last year, but it will be a lot of fun to try," he said. "Maybe winning the Slam, all four in a career. Hopefully, it's not all downhill."

There are many similarities between Scott and McIlroy in terms of their swings and their high octane, spectacular ball-striking and they way they came back from major disasters - McIlroy in the 2011 Master, Scott in the 2012 Open at Lytham.

The difference is that Scott is nine years McIlroy's senior and while the Ulsterman won his first major, the 2011 US Open, in what was only his tenth attempt as a professional, Scott's Masters win came in his 48th attempt.

Both used those "failures" as springboards to their future major successes in terms of confidence. 

Barring accidents, new local boy McIlroy should be in top form come Honda Classic week alongside longtime resident Woods. Whether Scott will be ready to give them a game remains to be seen but it will certainly whet the appetite for the Masters, which takes place just six weeks later.