Doug Ferguson/ Associated Press
INCHEON, South Korea – Adam Scott only has three months left before the method used for his long putter is banned.
He saw no need to wait.
Scott used a conventional putter for a practice round Monday at the Presidents Cup, and the 35-year-old Australian said this time he won’t be going back. Scott spent the last five weeks practicing with the new putter and a cross-handed grip that feels as comfortable as the long putter he had used the last four years.
“I think it was a good time to make a change and spend some time working on it,” Scott said. “It’s a similar amount of time, actually, when I switched to the long putter, that gap of five weeks between events. It took shape quickly, and I feel the same will happen with this. It’s kind of refreshing to have to make a forced change because my putting stats are not that impressive this year.”
Scott’s putting has never been a strength, though this season his No. 158 ranking in the key putting statistic was his worst since he last used a conventional putter in 2010.
Golf’s ruling bodies adopted a new rule effective Jan. 1 that bans the anchored stroke used for longer putters. Scott switched to a long putter in 2011 and won the Masters two years later.
He showed up at Doral at the start of this year using a conventional putter and tied for fourth. But he missed the cut the following week at the Valspar Championship, finished 13 shots out of the lead at Bay Hill and went back to the long putter.
“I didn’t take any time going into that,” he said. “I just did it with no thought and open mind to see how it went. It went well, really, but maybe I got a little jumpy as I neared the Masters without a little practice and went back. But this is a more permanent move. I think I’ve got to stick with it now and get good at it.”
Other players who won majors with an anchored putting stroke – Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Ernie Els – already made the switch. Scott got more attention than the others because his performance in the majors improved shortly after going to a long putter, even though he was ranked out of the top 100 in putting all but one year.
“There was a bit of a letdown and some frustration,” Scott said. “I didn’t putt well knowing I had to make the change in the back of my mind, and now there’s a clear path going forward.”
Scott has gone 14 consecutive years winning somewhere in the world, a streak that now is in jeopardy going into his final six tournaments of the year. He has had only two top 10s since March – a tie for fourth in the U.S. Open and a tie for 10th in the British Open – and didn’t make it beyond the opening event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Turns out that extra month off proved useful.
Scott said he always felt as though a cross-handed grip would be the best style. He worked with his coach and the Scotty Cameron putting studio to find the right putter, and he showed up at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea feeling good about the rest of the year.
“I’m more confident putting it into play this week,” he said. “Playing with it early in the year I didn’t know what to expect. This week … there has to be a week where I start, and it might as well be here. I’m confident I can make myself one of the best putters on tour with a short putter.”
Along with a conventional putter, the other difference with Scott was the tape on his right middle finger. He said he damaged it earlier in the year – he’s not sure when or even how – and it began to aggravate him around the PGA Championship. He discovered a torn ligament from the repetitive stress of hitting golf balls, but the time off helped and Scott said it has healed enough for him to play.