By Mark Lamport-Stokes
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Masters champion Adam Scott has already enjoyed the best year of his career but knows he could make it a sensational campaign if he can end the 2013 PGA Tour season with a flourish at this week's Tour Championship.
Two prestigious titles are on the line at East Lake Golf Club, the tournament itself and overall FedExCup honors, and Scott believes he has to record his third win of the season to thrust his name into contention for PGA Tour Player of the Year.
"It's been a great year for sure, but I think this week counts so much for me and how the year will be remembered by myself and others, for that matter," the Australian world number two told reporters on Wednesday.
"There's so much to play for, with two trophies here this week, and also potentially throwing my name in a Player of the Year debate. I really need to win to even throw my name in the hat there, then it could be possible.
"And it's probably the same for a couple of other guys as well," added Scott, who sits third in the FedExCup standings and is one of only five players in this week's field of 30 who would secure overall playoff honors by winning the Tour Championship.
Scott has triumphed twice on the 2013 PGA Tour, as has British Open champion Phil Mickelson. Those two are effectively locked into a three-horse race for Player of the Year honors with Tiger Woods, who has won a season-high five times without claiming a major title.
Asked whether he would vote for Mickelson as Player of the Year if the American left-hander went on to clinch both the Tour Championship and FedExCup title, Scott replied: "It would be hard not to give him the vote.
"Then he has three wins with a major and Tiger has five wins and Phil has the FedExCup. I think it's a pretty strong case to say Phil. But if you feel like five wins is more impressive, you can put Tiger.
"You've got a strong case to argue for both, so that's why it could go any way. I don't know how all the other guys see it."
Scott's successful PGA Tour campaign, which has produced six top-10s in 15 starts including his first major victory at the Masters in April, owes much to the truncated playing schedule he implemented before the start of the 2011 season.
"I was frustrated and disappointed in my performance in big events for the most part of my career," said the Australian who won his 10th PGA Tour title at last month's Barclays tournament, the FedExCup playoff series opener.
"My coach and I identified that I really needed to change something, even change something drastically and not be afraid to do that and find a way that I can somewhat be ready to peak at the right events.
"That's what we had to do. We had to cut out some events, and I had to be disciplined to put the work in when I was away from the golf course, which I've done."
Scott's results have certainly underlined the success of his more limited schedule, the Australian having recorded seven top-10s in his last 12 major starts.
"You can't take for granted that just playing a lot of golf is going to hold up to four days of major pressure or World Golf Championship pressure or the Tour Championship pressure," the 33-year-old said
"There's got to be a lot of preparation and practice that goes into your swing and putting and chipping, holding up to that kind of pressure, consistently. It might just show up one week, but it hadn't really done it for me.
"So we had to change something and lighten the playing load and somehow increase the practice load and find the balance. The past couple of years, I've had a good balance."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)