(Reuters) - Adam Scott is confident his best days are still ahead, even though almost three years have passed since he enjoyed a short reign as world number one.
As he heads to this week's Players Championship in Florida, where he burst onto the American golf scene with a win in 2004, Scott is working towards peaking for the business section of the season, after flirting with contention at the U.S. Masters where he finished equal ninth.
At 36, an age traditionally slightly past a player's peak, he has peace of mind that comes with having won a major, the 2013 Masters, and believes that being largely injury-free should allow him to continue playing well for many years.
"I still feel like I've got a long window," the Australian world number 11 told Reuters at last week's Wells Fargo Championship, where he tied for 36th.
"I’ve at least won my first major. Five years ago there was definitely a sense of urgency because I hadn't won a major and I felt I was a good enough player to, and (was wondering) is it going to happen?
"I’m relatively stress-free, injury-free. I want (success) just as much as I wanted it before.”
Scott spent 11 weeks as the world’s top-ranked player, supplanting Tiger Woods in May 2014.
He is trying to juggle the demands of top-level golf with family life. He has a 2-year-old daughter, with Swedish wife Marie expecting their second child in August.
As much as he enjoys life at home during his time off, Scott admits to watching plenty of golf on television, and getting itchy feet when he watches his peers.
Long regarded as one of the premier long-game exponents, he says his short game has improved under the tutelage of Australian instructor Matt Ballard, even if it did not look like it at Augusta.
“My short game was really sharp the first few events,” he said. “At Augusta it wasn’t as good as I would have liked but I put myself in some pretty tough spots too, so it’s unfair to be too critical. I’ve definitely seen some improvement.”
Scott is older than the current top five in the world, and has watched with interest as Dustin Johnson has taken a grip on the number one ranking.
Johnson won three straight starts, before finishing tied second in the Wells Fargo Championship, despite being rusty after time off recovering from a fall that hurt his back and kept him out of the Masters.
But Scott observed that a golfer’s place in the pantheon of greats was measured over a career, not a couple of months.
“He’s in a sweet spot at the moment where everything feels very easy and free, a place where we all occasionally get to,” Scott said of Johnson.
“But you’ve got to keep it there for a few years and I did for a while but it’s slowly getting back to where I’d like it to be at the moment and hopefully I’m back up challenging for some majors soon.”
(Fixes wording in 12th paragraph)
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue