Updated: July 31, 2012, 3:17 PM ET

Scott should look no further than McIlroy

Harig By Bob Harig

Perhaps it is a good thing for Adam Scott that there is another tournament to play so quickly after a heartbreaking loss at the Open Championship.

Scott returns to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, this week as defending champion at Firestone Country Club, a place where there surely will be good vibes after an impressive victory a year ago.

Then again, he'll have to deal with the inevitable condolences that come his way from all of his peers who will be on hand for the World Golf Championship event.

Nobody -- not even champion Ernie Els -- wanted to see Scott lose a major by bogeying the final four holes after he had appeared so in control.

[+] EnlargeRory McIlroy
Allan Henry/US PresswireJust a couple of months after a final-round collapse at the 2011 Masters, Rory McIlroy set records for, among other things, lowest 72-hole score as well as the lowest score at any point during a U.S. Open (17 under.)

The conclusion was shocking for its swiftness, a guy four shots ahead with four holes to play all of sudden losing by one.

"Hopefully I can let it go really quick and get on with what I plan to do," Scott said less than an hour after the tournament concluded. "We'll see. I don't know. I've never been in this position before."

There are plenty of examples of players who never recovered from such a collapse, so maybe it is best for Scott to focus on one who did. If he doesn't consult with Rory McIlroy, Scott need only study the circumstances to find some comfort.

After blowing a four-shot, 54-hole lead last year at the Masters -- the same advantage Scott had through 54 holes at the Open Championship -- McIlroy rebounded to win the very next major, the U.S. Open. And he did so in record-setting fashion.

In some ways, you could argue that McIlroy's collapse was worse. He melted down over the final nine holes and ended up shooting 80. Scott's situation was not nearly the same. He really hit just one bad shot coming down the stretch -- his approach to the 17th hole -- but was done in by some shaky putting and the vagaries of links golf.

Scott can take some comfort in knowing he played beautifully for most of the tournament. He led the field in driving distance, and even at the home hole he hit a solid tee shot that found a pot bunker. His approach to set up a par putt was excellent. He simply missed.

"Adam Scott is going to be scarred for life," said Nick Faldo that day in his role as a BBC analyst.

Certainly it won't be easy bouncing back, but if Scott can take some consolation in McIlroy's circumstances and take to heart what Els said afterward, perhaps he can move on.

"I just hope he doesn't take it as hard as I did," said Els, who was gracious at the awards ceremony, apologizing to Scott and telling him he would win "many" of the same trophies.

Scott, 32, has eight victories on both the PGA and European tours but came into the Open with just seven top-10s in majors, his only real shot at victory coming at the 2011 Masters, where he played beautifully but was simply passed by Charl Schwartzel with four straight birdies to finish. Scott tied for second.

Els has endured his share of disappointment in majors, and his is an excellent example of perseverance. At age 42, he's in the World Golf Hall of Fame but nonetheless has continued to work at putting himself in a position to win.

Scott can learn from that lesson.

The process begins this week at the Bridgestone and continues next week at the year's final major, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.

If you erase the final four holes at Lytham, Scott has played well of late. He's been third and second in his past two starts, and after poor first rounds at the Masters and U.S. Open, he rallied to finish tied for eighth at Augusta and tied for 15th at the Olympic Club.

Scott realized he needed to treat the first round like the last round and played aggressive in England. It put him in position to win. Now the question is if he can put himself back there, and soon.

Golf and the Olympics

While the Olympic Games taking place in London, golf's governing bodies are preparing for a return in 2016 in Rio -- where the details of getting golf course construction are still being worked out so the project can be completed in time for a test run tournament to be played in 2015.

Meanwhile, the event's format is still a subject of debate. The Games were awarded on the basis of a 72-hole stroke-play format for both men and women.

It would be nice, however, if some sort of team aspect could be incorporated, to liven up the event and make it different from what occurs on golf tours every week.

The International Golf Federation head Peter Dawson -- who also runs the R&A -- acknowledged there could be further talks on the topic.

"We're going [to] have another look at that in the next few weeks and months,'' Dawson said following the Open Championship. "But golf's bid was based on individual competition. It was accepted on individual competition, 72 hole stroke play. In order for that to be changed, and I'm not sure that it ought to be changed, but if it were to be, we'd have to get agreement from the IOC sports department.''

A team component could still be part of an overall individual competition. Why not make the team part 54 holes and conclude it the day prior to the crowning of individual champions? And to preserve the individual format, you could still play better-ball or aggregate or even some sort of points system to come up with a team score.

"I think we all had this at the back of our mind at the start, wouldn't it be nice to make the Olympic competition a little bit different, at least, from the week in, week out competition,'' Dawson acknowledged. "Now, the week in, week out competition, 72 hole stroke play, is probably the best way to find the champion in terms of the standard of the examination paper.

"But thoughts of an element of match play, thoughts of an element of team competition have been raised with us many times, and it's those areas we'll be having a look at.''

The format now calls for 60 players for both men and women, with the top 15 in the world at some cutoff point automatically qualifying (with no more than four per nation). The remaining 45 players would be selected based on ranking but only if their country already does not have two competing. Once qualified, the next highest-ranked player from that country also would make the field.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.


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