The prospect of never winning another golf tournament crossed Adam Scott's mind but after "outsmarting" Royal Pines to claim another Australian PGA Championship title he will carry renewed belief into next year's hunt for a second major.
The former World No.1 (13-under) snapped a near four-year trophy drought when he held the Joe Kirkwood Cup aloft on the Gold Coast on Sunday, prevailing by two shots from New Zealand's Michael Hendry after firing a back-nine birdie and eagle to break free from a bunched leaderboard.
Like Scott, playing partners Nick Flanagan and Wade Ormsby (both 10-under in a five-way tie for third) three-putted for bogey on the 18th but after arriving on the tee with a three-shot lead Scott could afford the minor blip.
It was his 30th win worldwide but his first since he won the Honda Classic and WGC-Cadillac Championship back to back in the US in early 2016.
RIGHT: An injured Michael Hendry finished in second place, two shotss behind Scott. PHOTO: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
And it was a welcome one for the 39-year-old, who will enjoy bringing silverware home for his daughter to grant a wish that hadn't eventuated in a frustrating 2019 that featured two runner-up finishes and nine top-10s.
"It's been a long time between drinks for me and maybe only once or twice did the thought cross my mind that I'll never win again," Scott said.
"It's very difficult to win and I'm on the wrong side of this age thing now.
"I've played some pretty good golf and fell short ... just being alright doesn't really get you wins, you've got to be pretty much sensational.
"I grinded it out this week and feel like I outsmarted the golf course."
Scott (70, 67, 69, 69) eagled the 15th hole three times in four rounds over the week, Sunday's effort perhaps the most impressive given a tricky pin placement that commentators were sure he couldn't attack.
But a par save on the 12th after hitting his tee shot into deep tree roots proved just as crucial in setting up Scott's charge home.
Nursing sore ribs, Hendry battled through the pain to make up the two-shot advantage Scott held on Saturday night and led by one at the turn.
Both men missed a series of birdie putts as left-field contenders gathered just below them and Flanagan – chasing a win to earn European Tour status next year – briefly shared the lead at 12-under.
Scott was one of seven men within two shots of the lead with six holes to play, but held his nerve best as Hendry bogeyed the final two holes to give the Queenslander an enjoyable stroll up the 18th fairway.
His 2013 US Masters triumph came hot on the heels of a breakthrough 2012 Australian Masters title and Scott has used that example all week as he eyes another Augusta National tilt in April.
"A win (makes) you feel like you're just never going to lose again," Scott said.
"I hope it helps; it's nice to have reassurance and the belief of winning
"You want to be in contention and find out how you feel and respond and I got some of that today and if I happen to be in that position Sunday at the Masters I can draw on it."