There was a moment or two on Thursday that Adam Scott looked as though he could win the Masters again. He had taken the early lead in the tournament, and at the par-five 15th he hit a pure long iron shot to the green for an eagle putt. Then he three-putted and could only manage par, just as he had done at the par-five 13th. Scott carded a 69 that could quite conceivably have been a 64. The rest of the tournament he was surviving rather than thriving. Making a bomb at the last yesterday, the Australian signed for 72 and finished tied-14th in his defence of the green jacket. Scott slipped the jacket over Bubba Watson&aposs shoulders and the American quipped that they might make a little arrangement. “After giving away that jacket last year, I kind of wanted it back,&apos&apos said Watson, who won the Masters in 2012 and hence, handed the jacket to Scott when he won in 2013. “I told Adam we should just keep switching it back and forth.&apos&apos Scott would agree to such a scheme if it were possible. But he is not quite on his 2013 form, even though he is at No. 2 in the rankings and within touching distance of overtaking the injured Tiger Woods. His putting is an issue; he had 122 putts at Augusta National this week and it has been that way for a while. He turned up at Augusta National with a different method of lining up his putts, using his left hand as a guide as he stood behind the ball, but it was a familiar story. It is interesting that Mike Clayton, GA columnist and longtime pro, believes Scott should throw away the long putter and revert to a traditional implement, given that the golf authorities have outlawed anchoring of putters from January 1, 2016. To this point, Scott has said he will consider his position then and not now. He feels the long putter helps him, yet the statistics do not necessarily reflect this, and at some point, Scott is going to have to confront all this. Fellow-Queenslander John Senden looks to have found a way to play the course, carding a 73 to finish tied-eighth, which will give him an invitation to play again next year. Jason Day (T20) will be better for the run after recent injury troubles, and Steven Bowditch (T26) was impressive. Oliver Goss was leading amateur, a first for an Australian. But the stage was left for Watson, a unique player who eschews the modern preference for coaching and hours on the range. He has never had a lesson, and his swing is unrepeatable. But he can curve the ball more than just about anyone, and at Augusta National he hits high cut shots that swerve around the corners of a course that runs mostly right-to-left. The drive he hit on the par-five 13th hole today, soaring over and through the trees down the left and stopping at 330 metres, was instructive of his method. So was his shot through the trees just beyond the green at the par-five 15th, when a lay-up to the bottom of the hill would have been prudent. He is aggressive and he can dismantle a course. Right handers know that they need to hit a lot of draw shots that carry overspin and can run into trouble at Augusta. Left-handers can hit cuts that stay safe. Six of the past 12 Masters have been won by left-handers, and there is something in this. Which is why Luke Donald, the Englishman, joked that he was heading off to buy a set of left-handed clubs today. Watson won the Masters in a playoff in 2012 with an amazing hooked wedge from 150 metres that he needed to curve a full 30 metres from under the trees on the 10th hole. He can hit it both ways and he has all the shots. He plays Augusta National well, like Fred Couples and Mickelson and Woods; it is a course that certain people work out. He is a polarising player on Tour. He has not always been especially popular and has drawn criticism for audible abuse of his caddie, Ted Scott, at major tournaments. But he is a hell of a player when he is on song. One final note on the 2014 Masters. Oliver Goss won the silver cup as the low amateur in the field, having taken his place at Augusta by making the final of the US Amateur championship last year. A member of Golf Australia&aposs national elite squad, he played with remarkable calm, particularly on Friday when he went under-par to be the only amateur to make the cut. Currently at college in Tennessee, he intends playing the US Open at Pinehurst later this year and then will contemplate whether he turns professional or completes his college education. With the teenage wunderkinds Minjee Lee and Su Oh on the women&aposs side and the likes of Goss on the men&aposs, Australian golf is in a good place.
Author: Martin Blake / golf.org.au