THE warning signs began last Thursday.
Men, women and children were lining up to get into the Australian Open at 5.45am.
They arrived prepared to stand 10-to-15 deep, just to catch a glimpse of Adam Scott in the flesh.
The Royal Sydney turnstiles have kept rolling all week, as have Scott's putts into the hole.
Mass-media coverage and a spike in TV ratings gave a hint that something special was brewing.
A round-one course record of 10-under from Scott was the prefect teaser.
Bookies reacted by squeezing the 33-year-old's already short-price odds even tighter to win today's Australian Open.
But nobody could've ever predicted this.
The Sunday Telegraph can today reveal the fascinating results of a study conducted last week by leading global sports marketing and sponsorship research company Repucom, which shows that Scott is now considered more popular in the US than Tiger Woods.
The research findings also underline the impact of Scott's stunning US Masters victory last April, which was witnessed by over 37 million people.
And as Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt respectfully hinted last week, if Scott hasn't already, he is on the verge of usurping Greg Norman's popularity.
Norman's charisma catapulted interest and participation of golf in Australia during the mid-1980s and early '90s of which has never been realised by the sport again.
Repucom's detailed impact-study analyses six influential categories relating to celebrities or athletes before determining the results. In this case, Scott was compared to the biggest names in world golf, current world no1 Woods and Ireland's current world no3 Rory McIlroy.
In every category, Scott finished ahead of Woods and McIlroy.
The study attracted 11,000 respondents from across the US and Australia.
The six categories measured were: Awareness, Appeal, Breakthrough, Trendsetter, Influence, Trust, Endorsement and Aspiration.
In every category, Scott finished ahead of Woods and McIlroy.
Adam Scott is ahead of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods in the celebrity DBI scores for international golfers.
And perhaps even more intriguing was that in all six categories, Woods finished last.
When it came to awareness, which indicates the percentage of people who are aware of the celebrity either by name or face, Scott attracted 75 per cent - the largest percentage of his two main competitors.
When it came to trust, which indicates the level of trust that people place in the golfer's words and image, Woods has clearly failed to recover from his salacious affairs which led to the split with wife, Elin Nordegren four year ago.
Less than half (44 per cent) of the respondents trust Woods, while 68 per cent have faith in Scott.
Repucom managing director of Australia and New Zealand Lynne Anderson said the research clearly indicates Scott's appeal as a global brand and ambassador for golf in Australia.
"Winning his first major championship this year, the Masters, meant he equalled his highest career ranking and although he failed to produce the same results later in the US Open, Scott certainly proved he is worthy of his critical acclaim,'' Anderson said.
"Adam Scott has achieved a remarkable public opinion position where he currently sits at the top of all attributes.
"He appears to be the ultimate sports all-rounder. Globally successful in his chosen sport and well-liked and respected.
"His local appeal complementing the global consumer ratings.''
Charismatic, articulate, polite and a downright good bloke, Scott, according to those closest to him, hasn't changed from the boy who first took up the sport by hitting plastic golf balls.
Steve Williams summed up the appeal of Scott recently.
The most sort-after caddy in golf and respected offsider to Scott was asked in a magazine interview how working with the popular Australian differed from previous stints on the bag of golfing gods Tiger Woods, Peter Thomson, Raymond Floyd or Greg Norman.
"It's the first time I can genuinely say that I'm caddieing for a friend," Williams answered.
But this afternoon, out on the heavily bunkered and at-times blustery Royal Sydney course of the Australian Open, is no time for nice guys.
The autographs hunters, happy snaps with teenagers and the mothers of teenagers, will have to wait.
Scott, or Adam Hot, as his female fans prefer to call him, is chasing the Triple Crown of Australian golf - which includes winning the Australian Masters, Australian PGA and Australian Open.
He also has Tigers in his sights - and it has nothing to do with popularity contests.
Adam Scott celebrates his Australian Masters win in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images
The Open's Stonehaven Cup might be the prize, but valuable ranking points are what Scott, a perfectionist, cherishes equally, as he zeroes in on his boyhood dream of becoming the world no1 of golf.
Victory this afternoon will inch Scott closer to Woods, who sits aloft on the world rankings three points clear of the clean-hitting Queenslander.
It's a position which according to former US Masters and British Open runner-up and Australian golfing great, Jack Newton, is only a matter of time before Scott makes his own.
"He can do it,'' Newton told The Sunday Telegraph.
"To accrue that number one spot, I think Adam is probably thinking about more Majors rather than playing more tournaments and he's playing good enough golf to do that.''
Scott admits it's confidence at the moment which, if anything, separates him from the rest of the field, including McIlroy, who has failed to win a single tournament in 2013.
Scott has also been forthcoming about his ambition to be the world's best.
It's a dream that has never waned despite the many obstacles along the way, including letting last year's British Open slip.
"I'm not going to stop dreaming of it just because Tiger Woods holds the number one spot,'' Scott said during a press conference last Wednesday.
"But Tiger won't want to give up that number one spot very easily either, so he'll be off working on it. It doesn't take much to motivate him to want put someone back in their place.''
If Scott's brilliance with the blade over the past three days in Sydney is anything to go by, a showdown with Woods in 2014 is inevitable.
At least we know who will boast the most fans.