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When Adam Scott lost a playoff to Greg Chalmers at the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines last December – the longest playoff in Australian tour history at seven holes – he was criticised for his poor putting under pressure.
For an hour they went up the straight-away par-four 18th at Royal Pines and back again. Scott was relentless off the tee, continuing to smash it down to wedging distance from the big green at the 18th. Four times he had birdie putts to win and could not close the door. In the end, Chalmers held firm, and Scott missed a short par putt to hand the Western Australian the title.
But what Scott said immediately afterward was instructive. "I didn't hit it close enough today to the hole," Scott said. "It wasn't like I missed 10 footers today all day long. When you hit it outside 25 feet, there is almost the same chance you are going to three-putt as two-putt on tour. You have to hit it closer."
Everyone focusses on Scott’s putting, and it’s true that at 191st on the most important putting statistic (strokes gained) on the United States PGA Tour this year, the Australian is not exactly holing everything. He has returned to his broomstick putter after a brief experiment with a regulation-length putter earlier in the year. Of course, anchoring is banned from January 1 next year, meaning that he will not have the option of using the broomstick implement next year, unless he can find a way to use it without anchoring.
But the player himself believes it runs deeper than putting; recent changes to his equipment reflect this. The 2013 Master champion and former world No. 1 has changed to stiffer shafted irons, particularly in his wedges and shorter irons this year. While the transition has had implications for his performance – he has drifted to No. 12 in the world, and has had just one top-10 finish for the year – he is convinced that he needed to capitalise on his great driving.
Scott said recently he had noticed inconsistent flight in his short irons, and reasoned that the shafts were “too weak’’. While he is noticing improvement with his new equipment, his scoring has not reflected that.
“Obviously changing iron shafts, there’s been quite a lot of hitting involved and not neglect to other areas, but maybe less focus,’’ he told the media recently.
As was well-publicised during the week, he has also convinced his former caddie Steve Williams to take the bag for him at the US Open at Chambers Bay from June 18, his next start in a tournament.
“Steve was adamant that he was not going to caddie in 2015, so he took some convincing, but I am very happy he’s agreed to help out,’’ Scott told pgatour.com in an interview this week. “We’ve had great success together, so I’m looking forward to being on the links with Steve again.”
Williams told the website by email that he would carry Scott’s bag for the three remaining majors this year, plus the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. “These are the events that get you excited and I'm looking forward to the challenge these events present.”
Scott has had big changes in all areas of his life; notably the birth of his and wife Marie’s first child, Bo, in February. But with the US Open approaching, he feels his golf game is coming around. “The ship is steadying for sure so I just have to get some momentum going and get the results and that confidence comes.”