By Andrew Both
PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - World number one Adam Scott was not exactly thrilled with a tie for ninth at the U.S. Open, but it was at least a step in the right direction.
"I felt like my game really came into a good spot today, so it would have been nice to have started the day (in contention)," the Australian told reporters after shooting 69 to finish at two-over 282, 11 behind runaway winner Martin Kaymer.
It was Scott's first top-10 in 13 U.S. Open appearances, though he disputed a suggestion that he was finally learning how to play the major generally regarded as golf's toughest test.
"I know what it takes to compete. I've just got to play better," he said. "Until today, I felt like I didn't have a lot of great chances at birdie putts.
"But when you're playing well and you don't have a lot of chances, maybe I've slightly missed something. But I'm not disappointed with the way I played. I felt like all aspects of my game were pretty good."
Scott finished one stroke better than last year's champion Justin Rose, who tied for 12th.
"Today the course got the better of me a little bit. I got frustrated today," the Englishman said, before speaking about his year as reigning champion.
"It's been a busy year, a hard year in some ways, too. You win a major and you think everything is going to be great from there on (but) golf continues you test you.
"You continue to have your struggles with the game, and that's the beautiful thing about it. It's made me appreciate winning is not everything, as well."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)