Returning to the scene of a disaster can elicit a number of unpleasant reactions: flashbacks, anxiety, fear, regret.
So how will Adam Scott respond when he tees off next week at the British Open, a year after throwing away the tournament in devastating fashion?
Scott gave up a 4-stroke lead to Ernie Els with four holes to play at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. It was a train wreck, a tsunami, an eight-car pileup. The Aussie should be exuding symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder this year at Muirfield. But there's a good chance he won't. In fact, he might even win the thing.
How does one go from British Open punch line to contender in less than a year? Win a major, that's how.
It's hard to label a guy a choke artist when he drains a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at Augusta National, then takes down former champion Angel Cabrera in a playoff to win the Masters.
Scott won his first major at Augusta in April and improved both his reputation and fortunes in the process. He's still the guy who bogeyed the last four holes at the British Open, but he proved to both himself and the public that the loss didn't break him. Instead, it made him stronger. And the Masters win should only bolster his chances of capturing another major.
"The experience of dealing with coming down the stretch and ultimately winning, hopefully, will hold me in good stead the next time I get that chance," he said before the U.S. Open in June.
Scott didn't get that chance at Merion, as four rounds in the 70s precluded him from contending down the stretch and left him in a tie for 45th. He has played just once since then -- a tie for 57th at AT&T National. But Scott is in the midst of a plan he enacted a few years ago, which involves him playing fewer tournaments and practicing more effectively as he targets major championships.
And redemption at the British Open is in his sights.
History is not against the soon-to-be 33-year-old. Seven men have won both the Masters and the British Open in the same year, most recently Tiger Woods in 2005. The others were Mark O'Meara (1998), Nick Faldo (1990), Tom Watson (1977), Gary Player (1974), Jack Nicklaus (1966) and Arnold Palmer (1962).
Heady company to be sure. Woods, O'Meara, Faldo and the ageless Watson will be in the field next week, as will the usual names: McIlroy, Rose, Mickelson, McDowell and Els. But Scott has as good a chance as any.
In psychiatry, there is a PTSD treatment known as exposure therapy. In it, the patient revisits a former traumatic event in a controlled setting, without the risk of danger.
Scott will revisit his British Open disaster next week, but in a way the danger has already been removed. He already confronted and overcame the collapse when he persevered dramatically at Augusta. He has his major championship. He restored and furthered his reputation. And ... he laid the groundwork for redemption at Muirfield.