Call for rehab for heart attack survivors

Australian lives would be saved and health care costs cut if more heart attack survivors attended cardiac rehabilitation programs, new research shows.

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Increasing participation rates from the current 30 to 65 per cent would result in annual $35.5 million savings in health care costs and 2100 fewer heart attacks nationally.

The Heart Foundation says 430,000 Australians are living having survived a heart attack, but around 300,000 have not completed any form of the rehab programs on offer.

These may include physical activity, health education, counselling, behaviour modification strategies and support for managing a heart condition.

“Of the 55,000 heart attacks that will occur this year, each will cost around $30,000 in healthcare costs,” says the foundation’s chief medical advisor, Professor Garry Jennings.

“In stark contrast, a cardiac rehabilitation program costs the health system an average $885 per person to attend.”

Studies show that heart attack survivors who have taken part in a program are 40 per cent less likely to be readmitted to hospital and 25 per cent less likely to die from another heart attack.

“While the benefits are clear, many people aren’t referred to or don’t attend cardiac rehabilitation, leaving them at real risk of having another heart attack,” he said.

About 80 per cent of people advised to attend do so.

“A third of people being admitted to hospital for a heart attack have been there before – it isn’t their first heart attack but their second or third, putting major drain on our health services.”

The foundations wants the federal government to fund a national audit to highlight and overcome barriers to program participation.

Truckies road safety tribunal abolished

Federal parliament has scrapped the Gillard government’s road safety tribunal, skirting a minimum wage decision for owner-driver truckies.

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Legislation to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal passed the Senate without Labor’s support on Monday evening after two hours of debate.

The bill passed 36 to 32 with the support of the crossbench except Motoring Enthusiast Ricky Muir.

The government slipped the bill into this week’s parliamentary agenda after MPs and senators were called back to Canberra by the governor-general at the request of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday to consider industrial reform bills.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission bills were voted down by the Senate on Monday evening, handing Mr Turnbull a trigger for a double-dissolution election on July 2.

Labor and the Greens slammed the government’s decision to abolish the tribunal, labelling it an attack on hardworking Australians.

Senior Labor senator Stephen Conroy said Australian roads would be less safe as a result of the decision and accused Mr Turnbull of using truckies as a pawn in his political game.

“What a comedy – Mr Turnbull pretending he cares about truck drivers,” he told parliament.

“This prime minister doesn’t care about road safety. He doesn’t care about the families of the victims who die.”

The coalition used its numbers to gag debate on the abolition on Monday evening before the lower house passed the bill and sent it to the Senate.

Nationals MP Mark Coulton told parliament the decision deprived owner-driver truckies from achieving the great Australian dream of being your own boss.

He said the decision forced drivers to park their trucks because they can’t compete against bigger transport companies.

Employed truck drivers were not covered by the minimum pay decision, only drivers who own their own vehicles, making it cheaper for bigger companies who employ drivers.

Mr Coulton, who holds a heavy vehicle driver’s licence, said owner-drivers would have to charge a higher rate than the average to comply with the rules.

They had two options: break the law and hope they weren’t caught or charge the higher rate and miss out on the job.

“This is not about safety, this is about anti-competitive behaviour,” he said.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne argues there is no tangible safety outcome from the tribunal.

Mr Pyne says it’s vital to abolish the body to ensure owner-truck drivers can keep working.

“This is about those operators who just want to earn a living so they can continue to sponsor their local sporting club, St John’s Ambulance or their children’s school without having their livelihood threatened,” he told parliament.

Turnbull has trigger for July 2 election

Australians look set to go to the polls on July 2 after the Senate shot down the federal government’s attempt to restore the building industry watchdog.

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The federal government was handed the trigger for a double-dissolution election on Monday night when the Senate again rejected legislation to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The bills were defeated 36-34, with crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus, Ricky Muir and John Madigan siding with Labor and the Greens.

MPs and senators were recalled to Canberra on Monday by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove at Mr Turnbull’s request, in a constitutional move not used for 40 years, to consider the industrial reform bills.

Mr Turnbull has vowed to use a second rejection of the bills as a trigger for a July 2 election, insisting the construction industry needs a cop on the beat to stamp out misconduct following last year’s damning royal commission report into union corruption.

Attorney-General George Brandis says the government is prepared to take the Senate’s rejection of its union legislation to the Australian people.

But he insists Australia won’t really be in an election campaign until parliament is dissolved and writs for an election are issued.

The government still plans to deliver its budget on May 3.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Labor is ready for an election, whenever it is.

“This will be a contest between Labor putting people first, and a Liberal Party looking after vested interests and the big banks.”

Senator Lambie says the government have never properly negotiated with crossbenchers.

“If I was going after your vote, you would be that sick of me in your face, you’d pretty much want to take me out,” she told ABC TV.

“I never felt like that with the minister.”

She says the ABCC is absolutely not a justifiable trigger for an early election – most people have no understanding of the legislation nor any interest in it.

A double-dissolution election means both houses of parliament are dissolved and all seats are up for grabs. Only half of the Senate would be up for re-election in a regular election.

2017 Budget health reforms welcomed, welfare changes draw criticism

The Medical Association is welcoming major health reforms, saying the government is winning back ground it lost after former Treasurer Joe Hockey’s 2014 Budget.

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But a major crackdown on welfare has drawn criticism from community groups who say it unfairly targets Australia’s most vulnerable.

Australia’s leading medical body has welcomed a move to unfreeze the Medicare rebate so it rises with inflation.

The cost of medicines should also come down, with funding for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme guaranteed.

Michael Gannon is the president of the Australian Medical Association.

He says the Abbott Government’s 2014 Budget was a disaster for healthcare, but this one goes a long way to repairing the damage.

“This means that we will not see patients thinking twice before visiting doctors, and we will see tremendous value that comes from these modest investments the government is making. So many health problems can be fixed by GPs, other specialists, preventing hospital admissions. There are some smart investments in this increased spending.”

Ian Yates, head of the Council of the Ageing, acknowledged there are measures in the Budget that will alleviate some of the pressures on older Australians.

He says older people consistently report that out of pocket expenses in heath is their number one concern.

Mr Yates says COTA supports changes to the Medicare levy and the retention of bulk billing incentives for diagnostics and pathology.

He also backed the restoration of pensioner concession cards for some older Australians and the one-off $75 power rebate for seniors.

“Overall, older Australians will feel mildly positive, in some cases, quite positive about this Budget. Welcome ending the Medicare freeze and a number of other measures in the health system.”

Mr Yates also welcomed measures to increase housing supply, invest in community housing and provide certainty for funding for homelessness services.

However, he says the government has missed an opportunity to focus in on the challenge and opportunities of an ageing population.

Mr Yates says the investment in retraining and reskilling older people doesn’t go far enough to meet what he said was a growing challenge.

While the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has criticised Budget’s welfare measures.

Welfare recipients who fail to meet their job-seeking obligations will now risk major reductions in their fortnightly payments.

The three-strikes rule will see welfare recipients given demerit points for turning down jobs, missing interviews or failing to keep their appointments.

And the government will experiment with drug-testing welfare recipients, and putting them on welfare debit cards to restrict their access to cash if they fail.

ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie says those on welfare should not be targeted for Budget savings.

“We’ve got a demerit system now for people who are really struggling, trying to meet their obligations on social security. We are deeply disappointed. The government has pursued this line that the problem with social security is that people are not doing the right thing. The overwhelming majority of people in Australia on social security – they are impoverished, they’re living on 38 dollars a day if you’re a single person.”

Treasurer Scott Morrison says a new tax on Australia’s five largest banks will bring in $6 billion over the next four years.

He’s urged the banks not to pass on the cost to consumers.

But Chris Richardson of Deloitte Access Economics says that is exactly what they’ll do.

“In theory this is paid by the banks, in practice there is a relatively large risk that it actually ends up being paid by everybody with a loan – true of families, true of businesses.”

The Budget has a strong focus on infrastructure, with $75 billion allocated over the next decade.

The big-ticket items are a second airport for Sydney, an upgrade to the Snowy Hydro Scheme and a major expansion of inland rail.

But Brendan Lyon, the head of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, says those big projects have distracted the government from less glamorous, general infrastructure funding.

“Tonight’s Budget is a cut in real infrastructure funding, not a boost. It’s a cut of about 7.4 billion dollars compared to the decade-long trend. And it means that we’re going to see less infrastructure built over the next four years, not more.”

Budget 2017: Older migrants to face stricter welfare residency test

More than 2000 new migrants will be barred from the age pension or disability payments in 2018 under tighter eligibility requirements announced by the government as part of the 2017 Budget.

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Pensioners and those claiming the disability support pension (DSP) will be required to have lived in Australia for up to 15 years continuously in order to continue receiving the payments.

The savings measure will save $119 million over five years by imposing stricter residency rules for those claiming the two welfare payments.

From July 2018, applicants will have had to have lived in Australia for at least 15 years continuously before being eligible for either the pension or DSP.

WATCH: Treasurer Scott Morrison talks to SBS

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Applicants will still receive their payments if they have either 10 years of continuous residence with at least five years of that time being during their working life – ie before they’re of age pension age – or if they have lived in Australia for a decade and never received any welfare for five years in total.

The existing requirement is that an applicant must have lived in Australia for 10 years.

Treasurer Scott Morrison on welfare

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The government estimates the measure will affect about 2390 people per year.

It follows the government’s announcement last week of a new 10-year, $20,000 temporary entry visa for parents of migrants.

The age pension costs the Budget approximately $42 billion.

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WA find puts life on earth 3.5b years ago

Life thrived on land as long as 3.

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48 billion years ago – hundreds of millions of years earlier than was previously thought, scientists have learned.

The discovery raises the possibility that the earliest living things may have evolved on land rather than in the sea – and increases the chances of life on Mars.

Fossil remnants of ancient microbes were unearthed from 3.48 billion-year-old hot spring deposits in a remote region of Western Australia.

Previously, the most ancient evidence of terrestrial life came from South African rocks dating back 2.7 to 2.9 billion years.

“Our exciting findings don’t just extend back the record of life living in hot springs by three billion years, they indicate that life was inhabiting the land much earlier than previously thought, by up to about 580 million years,” lead researcher Tara Djokic, from the University of NSW, said.

“This may have implications for an origin of life in freshwater hot springs on land, rather than the more widely discussed idea that life developed in the ocean and adapted to land later.”

The discovery, reported in the journal Nature Communications, is said to have major implications for the search for life on Mars.

The Red Planet has ancient hot spring deposits similar in age to those that yielded evidence of the ancient microbes in the Pilbara.

“If life can be preserved in hot springs so far back in Earth’s history, then there is a good chance it could be preserved in Martian hot springs too,” Ms Djokic said.

Within the Pilbara deposits, the scientists identified stromatolites, which are layered rock structures created by communities of ancient bugs.

Other signs of early life included preserved bubbles thought to have been trapped in a sticky microbial substance.

The presence of geyserite, a mineral only found in terrestrial hot spring environments, was evidence that the deposits were formed on land and not in the ocean.

New dinosaur with feathers, beak revealed

A clutch of enormous fossil eggs from China has led to the discovery of a new species of giant bird-like dinosaur.

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Flightless Beibeilong sinensis, which lived around 90 million years ago, had feathers, primitive wings and a beak, but dwarfed any of its modern bird relatives.

Based on their analysis of a hatchling that died while emerging from one of the eggs, experts believe the adult creature was around 8m long and weighed three tons.

Other dinosaurs of the same type, known as oviraptorosaurs, have seldom measured more than about 2m.

Several Beibeilong eggs were found in Henan Province, central China, in a ring-shaped clutch which was part of a nest 2-3m in diameter.

The eggs are up to 45cm across and weighed about 5kg.

“For many years, it was a mystery as to what kind of dinosaur laid these enormous eggs,” Professor Darla Zelenitsky, from the University of Calgary, whose team described the fossils in the journal Nature Communications, said.

“Because fossils of large theropods, like tyrannosaurs, were also found in the rocks in Henan, some people initially thought the eggs may have belonged to a tyrannosaur.

“Thanks to this fossil, we now know that these eggs were laid by a gigantic oviraptorosaur, a dinosaur that would have looked a lot like an overgrown cassowary. It would have been a sight to behold with a three-ton animal like this sitting on its nest of eggs.”

The new species of giant oviraptorosaur is thought to be the largest dinosaur known that cared for its young in a similar way to modern birds.

The scientists estimated the size of the adult after studying the bones of the hatchling and making comparisons with other dinosaurs.

It was the stillborn dinosaur that led to the name chosen for the species. Beibeilong sinensis translates as “baby dragon from China”.

Greek, Turkish Cypriots build trust through basketball

The PeacePlayers, one of a number of offshoots of an international group that uses sport to build trust in divided communities, has ballooned since it was set up in 2006.

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It now has more than 250 players and 12 teams that play all over the island, including in Nicosia, on a court at the Ledra Palace hotel in the United Nations-controlled no-man’s-land separating the Greek and Turkish sides of the divided capital.

“PeacePlayers is the bridge where we are building our relationships,” Serife Ertay, one of the group’s Turkish-Cypriot players, said on Tuesday.

PeacePlayers is about to add more coaches and will be able to take in more players following a donation from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is holding its annual meeting this year in Nicosia.

The bank had hoped to hold its meeting with reunification clearly in sight.

The reunification talks are focused on bringing the island, split along ethnic lines since 1974, under a federal umbrella of two semi-autonomous zones. But they have lost some momentum since the start of the year, causing frustration for diplomats who had seen the chances of a deal as the best in decades.

Harris Georgiades, finance minister of the Greek Cypriot-led government that represents Cyprus in the EU, who was watching the PeacePlayers practice, would not comment on the reunification process when asked by Reuters.

Instead he said both the PeacePlayers group and the EBRD’s decision to hold its meeting on the island were of symbolic importance for Cyprus.

“It is an opportunity for us to portray Cyprus as a safe, stable destination,” Georgiades said.

The Ledra Palace hotel backdrop to Tuesday’s basketball practice has rich historic associations in Cyprus. These days it is used by British troops, but in its heyday was frequented by Hollywood stars.

It was the venue of talks between the then-British colonial administration and Greek Cypriots seeking independence in 1955, it became a sanctuary for stranded tourists during a Turkish invasion in 1974 that followed a brief Greek-inspired coup, and has also been used as a prisoner-of-war exchange point.

For the teenagers taking part in Tuesday’s practice, however, the basketball games are not about politics or even, primarily, about the sport but about making new friends.

“It gives us so many opportunities that other things cannot give us,” said Nicos Mashias, one of the Greek Cypriot PeacePlayers.

Ertay added: “I have made so many friends from the south.”

(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Tomic loss ensures no Kyrgios showdown

A highly-anticipated first ATP match-up between Australians Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic has failed to eventuate with the latter bowing out of his opening round match at the Madrid Open.

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Tomic had his moments against American Ryan Harrison but went down 7-5 4-6 6-2 in 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Kyrgios had done his part the day before in a straight sets first round defeat of Marcos Baghdatis, advancing to play the winner of the Tomic-Harrison match.

But Tomic crumbled in the deciding set on Tuesday to ensure there’d be no all-Australian second round fixture.

It had loomed as an intriguing clash on Tomic’s non-preferred surface of clay after Kyrgios had given his sometime Davis Cup teammate short shrift for skipping Australia’s tie against the US.

After struggling on serve early, Tomic worked his way into the first set before Harrison stole a break just as it appeared headed for a tiebreak.

A rough call on game point to Tomic inflamed Harrison at 3-3 in the second set and while the Australian handed the break straight back he won the next two games to take the match into a decider.

It was largely the 47th-ranked American from there on in, Tomic surrendering meekly from 2-2 with two service breaks.

The loss marks the 39th-ranked Australian’s seventh in first round matches this year but Tomic has at least shown some improved form in the last few weeks, including a quarter-final appearance at Istanbul.

While Tomic fell it was a case of smooth sailing for top seed Andy Murray. The world No.1 though to the third round with a regulation 6-4 6-3 win over Romanian wildcard Marius Copil.

Murray was joined in the third round by fellow seeds David Goffin and Dominic Thiem.

Belgian, Goffin recorded a 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 win over Germany’s Florian Mayer, while Austrian, Thiem won through over American Jared Donaldson 6-3 6-4.

German veteran Tommy Haas bid farewell to Madrid with a 6-4 7-6 (9-7) loss to Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.

Panthers’ Mansour ramps up NRL comeback

Injured Penrith star Josh Mansour has taken a major step in his NRL comeback from a knee reconstruction after commencing contact work at training.

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Six months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on Kangaroos duty during the Four Nations, Mansour also recently rejoined his teammates for field sessions last week.

In good news for suffering Panthers fans, the incumbent NSW State of Origin winger is now understood to be two weeks away from being cleared to return to action.

“He’s been with us for a couple of weeks now and just trying to build his confidence up around the team. He’s been itching to get on the field lately,” prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard said.

“It’s been tough for him, staying in doors not around our teammates. He’s looking really good at the moment. He’s still got a couple more weeks away from training but he’s flying.”

The pre-season title favourites, who have struggled without their left winger, currently sit in 15th spot with just two wins from nine games, ahead of Saturday’s home clash against the Warriors.

Mansour, who has shared some of his rehabilitation journey on social media, had previously pencilled in a return for round 12 but could be pushed back another week or two.

Teammate Leilani Latu said Mansour’s mere presence on the training paddock has already given the playing roster a lift following a disappointing start to the season.

“He’s a good character and is a massive team morale boost. Everywhere he comes with us, whether on a trip, in the gym or out on the field, he’s an awesome bloke to have,” Latu said.

“He loves putting up video of himself on social media, but it’s a credit to himself, he’s the ultimate professional, ultimate individual when it comes to performance.

“He hasn’t skipped anything, hasn’t taken any shortcuts with anything. He’s taken everything the physios have given him, and we’re just seeing the full benefits now of him coming back.”

Slater primed for opening State of Origin

Veteran fullback Billy Slater says his omission from the Australian Test team has been a blessing in disguise and has him primed for this month’s opening State of Origin clash.

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On the comeback trail following two rounds of shoulder surgery, Melbourne Storm’s Slater was overlooked for the Kangaroos’ Test win over New Zealand last week.

The 33-year-old said he played his best game of the year in the Storm’s last round win over St George Illawarra, and after sitting out last season injured is desperate to again don the Maroons jersey.

“I’m a Queenslander I haven’t played for Queensland for a couple of years and I’d love the opportunity to get back in that arena,” Slater said.

“It’s obviously a very strong side but there’s still a couple of rounds of footy to go and hopefully I can continue playing good football.”

After playing seven rounds Slater said the time off for representative round was just what he needed.

“My shoulder is going really well,” he said.

“It was disappointing not to play in the Test last week but I think that week off has certainly been good for me and I’ve got my body in a really good position.”

Slater said he’d been in regular contact with Queensland coach Kevin Walters but wouldn’t give any hints away about whether he or incumbent Darius Boyd would wear the Maroons No.1 jersey.

“He’s a good mate and a teammate – it’s not a rivalry between Darius and myself,” Slater said.

“Darius is a fantastic fullback and he’s probably playing the best that he’s played in his whole career and he’s a great asset for Queensland so wherever we are it will be what’s best for Queensland and the selectors and coach will come up with that.”

Maroons match-winning five-eighth Johnathan Thurston is in a race against time to be fit for the May 31 opener in Brisbane, sidelined for three to six weeks with a shoulder injury.

Slater said Queensland was spoilt for choice if they needed a replacement.

“Anthony Milford and Dale Cherry-Evans; Corey Norman’s another one who’s playing really well or we’ve got Michael Morgan there who been playing well off the bench so he would slot nicely into a No.6 jersey and do a fantastic job.

“There’s a number of players putting their hand up and Kevvie and the selectors have got some options there.”

Maxwell shows Kings XI the way in IPL win

Glenn Maxwell’s Kings XI Punjab side have kept their hopes of reaching the finals of the Indian Premier League alive with a 14-run win over the Kolkata Knight Riders.

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Maxwell’s was explosive late in the innings and made 44 runs off 25 balls in an innings that included four sixes and was crucial for his side as they racked up a total of 6-167 off their 20 overs.

Maxwell was aided by Wriddhiman Saha, who chipped in with 38 of his own as the duo added 71 runs for the fourth wicket.

From there the stage was set for Kolkata’s big-hitting openers Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn to ignite their run chase, and ignite it they did.

Narine smashed four boundaries in a quick 18 before he was bowled by Mohit Sharma.

Then it was over to Lynn and the 27-year-old Queenslander obliged with a sterling innings of 84 off 52 deliveries, which included three sixes and eight boundaries.

Just as it seemed Lynn might carry his bat through the innings, to a century and a Kolkata victory he was run out by a brilliant piece of fielding from Axar Patel.

The allrounder threw to the keepers’ end with accuracy and speed from deep mid-wicket as Lynn fell short of making his ground in an attempt to make two runs.

His wicket started a Kolkata slide as Kings XI tightened the screws and Kolkata only scored another 21 runs to fall 14 short in their chase.

Maxwell wasn’t exactly confident his side would make the finals but he had plenty of praise for what his team did in the field to slow down the Kolkata chase.

“They were absolutely outstanding. Axar Patel led by example,” maxwell said.

“The fielding hasn’t been there the last few games, but they pulled it out tonight. Rahul Tewatia came into the game.

“We probably left ourselves 10-15 runs short, but we backed our plans. The boys were calm the last four overs.

“We’re hanging in by the skin of our teeth and giving the fans something to cheer about.”

Kings XI, who are now three points behind fourth-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad next face the top of the table Mumbai Indians as they continue to try and keep their season alive.

Scott brings major focus to Players

A determined Adam Scott has promised to put his major championship game-face on and honour the Players Championship for its nickname as golf’s ‘fifth major’.

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The 36-year-old, who tasted victory at Florida’s famed TPC Sawgrass course in 2004, will tee up in the 2017 tournament with the same preparation he usually reserves for the majors.

The 2013 Masters winner tuned up his game at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina, where he finished in a tie 36th place.

Starting Thursday (Friday AEST) with Australian Jason Day as the defending champion, the Players Championship has earned the reputation as the fifth major for its high-calibre field and $US 1.8 million winner’s prize.

“I’m absolutely treating (the Players) like a major. I’m doing what I normally do for major championship preparation; playing the week before and trying to get tuned up,” Scott told AAP.

While the Queenslander has a respectable two top-10s and five top-25s from eight events, Scott admits he needs to kickstart his season after dropping to No.11 in the world rankings.

But after several positive practice rounds, Scott says that could come at TPC Sawgrass this week.

“I haven’t hit the ball well this year; the only week I hit it good was Augusta, so I’m looking to improve on that,” Scott said.

“But I have to say the last three days the swing has felt really good where I want it to be, I’m full of confidence this week.”

Scott says he’ll draw inspiration from his stellar record during 15 previous starts at TPC Sawgrass, including a victory, two top-10s and seven top-25s.

“I love this place; I’ve played a lot of good golf around here; not just from winning in 2004 but I’ve been playing late on the weekends quite a few times.”