Date: January 04, 2016
Author: Robert Grant

Putter switch “no big deal”, says Scott

As Adam Scott begins 2016 permanently shackled to the conventional short putter he has described the enforced switch from the long blade as "no big deal."

Scott's competitiveness with the short stick has been widely questioned but the former world No.1 and Masters champion says he has no reason to be nervous, based on past facts.

One of those was that he was the Tour's top putter in 2004. Another is that he won 18 times worldwide before changing to the anchored putter.

The ban on anchored strokes used for long putters came into force on January 1 and has cast a cloud over a number of top contenders who had been guided by the ungainly but – for some – effective club.

''People don't like facts? It's a good starting point to an opinion – a fact,'' Scott told AP.

''Maybe because me changing to a long putter was quite a drastic change. Maybe that's why it got a lot of attention. Beats me. I've tried to downplay it the whole time. I don't think it's that big of a deal going back to the short putter.''

Scott made the change to the long putter at the 2011 Match Play Championship and from the start was vying for victory – he had chances to win the Masters two months later and went close to victory in the British Open the following year.

Finally, he broke Australia's Masters hoodoo by slipping on the green jacket at Augusta in 2013.

While he had a winless year in 2015, Scott is unperturbed by his rankings slip.

However there is no escaping the fact that Scott moved back and forth as he tested the waters for 2016. He did putt poorly, beginning with a short putter, then ditching that for the long one before the Masters before settling on the conventional putter at the Presidents Cup, where he had mixed results on the greens.

''I think the focus on putting is probably the least impactful thing,'' he said. ''I haven't had the consistency with my striking this year because it's one of those things where when your putting suffers, eventually it catches up with your ball striking.''

At least Scott has one advantage – South African Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson have used long putters their entire careers and could have serious problems this year.

Americans Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley also have only used anchored belly putters before moving to short putters at the end of 2014. Both have now slipped well out of the top 50.

Clark says he expects "some challenges along the way".

One of the leading critics of the rule change along with Scott, Bradley and, he has been using the anchored technique for 18 years but says he expects his game "will be just fine" with a new putting method.

"Nearly two decades of putting one way, I don't think many guys out here that have putted with a short one for that long would like to switch to something else that they haven't used," Clark said.

"There's going to be some challenges along the way but I feel what I'm going to do will be just fine, though you're only going to really know when you start in competition.

"The major switch for me to the short putter is a lot of muscle memory and retraining of how you use a putter. I'm going to try and do something that's not vastly different to what I've been doing in the past."

The two-times PGA Tour winner will debut his short putter at the Sony Open in Honolulu later this month.

Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion, says the change should not necessarily have been based not on the tradition of the game but nevertheless feels he is ready.

"I've been working with a short putter for quite a while," he said. "I expected the day to come and I wanted to be ready. I didn't want to be shocked."