By Mark Lamport-Stokes
PONTE VEDRA BEACH Florida (Reuters) - Adam Scott has a golden opportunity to become world number one for the first time after this week's Players Championship but the Australian is much more concerned with trying to win the tournament.
Top-ranked Tiger Woods, who won this elite event last year, is a notable absentee from the TPC Sawgrass while continuing his recovery from back surgery and Scott is one of four players who could take over at number one after Sunday's final round.
"I haven't been thinking about No. 1 that much," second-ranked Scott told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday's opening round.
"Look, I'm here to win golf tournaments. That's been the goal and from that you can get to No. 1 in the world if you win enough, often enough.
"I've had a couple of good chances this year already and haven't been able to pull it off, not because it's been weighing on my mind but I just wasn't sharp enough playing the last couple of rounds at a few events."
Bizarrely, Scott could have overtaken Woods by not competing this week at the TPC Sawgrass, simply due to a quirk in the official world ranking system."It's just the way it is, I guess," the Australian smiled. "It's a very hard system to perfect.
"With tours all around the world, people playing everywhere and awarding fair points for everything, I think they have come up with the best (system) they possibly can and they have been fairly accurate over the years.
"Of course there's always the odd one that doesn't quite make sense, and potentially this week if I sit at home and watch everyone, I might end up No. 1. That's a bit odd but it's a complicated system."
Scott would become world number one this week by finishing no worse than joint 16th at the Players Championship, an event widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major with the strongest field in the game.
Also vying for the top spot are third-ranked Swede Henrik Stenson and Americans Bubba Watson (fourth) and Matt Kuchar (fifth). Stenson needs a top-six placing, Watson outright second and Kuchar no less than victory this week.
Given all the potential world ranking scenarios going into this week, Scott is ideally placed to dislodge Woods from number one and he is delighted to return to a venue where he triumphed as a 23-year-old in 2004.
"I love coming back here," said Scott, who won his maiden major title at last year's Masters when he became the first Australian to triumph at Augusta National.
"I was just a kid then (in 2004) and I didn't know how hard the game was, but it's exciting coming back here and I'm very motivated this week.
"I've been playing some good golf and not getting the results I wanted, so here's a great chance for me to get back up in contention again and hopefully pull off a win."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)