Date: November 26, 2014
Author: Peter Stone @ The Australian GC

Scotty’s ongoing search for a bagman

 

It’s just over two months now since the umbilical cord between Adam Scott and Steve Williams was cut and while the latter is probably home penning his memoirs for an eager publisher, Scott is still auditioning to replace the almost irreplaceable.

If Williams is writing his book, it would be a ripper if opens up completely about his various bosses including Raymond Floyd, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and Scott.

Or would it be 'what happens of tour stays on tour', as it's often said of sporting travels.

It was here in Sydney last year when Scott embarked on his triumphant homecoming with the Green Jacket. The tears of anguish for were so many near misses at Augusta National, were tears of joy last year were that The Masters was finally won by an Australian.

Williams was so very much a part of that.

Now, Scott is conducting auditions for a new bagman.

Once Williams declared his retirement on a career that started with Peter Thomson for a New Zealand tournament when Williams was aged 12, literally hundreds, professional caddies and want-to-be caddies put their hands – and some obviously with their hands out for expected riches in Scott’s company.

He used experienced David Clark in the recent WGC event in China and again last week. From away, well watching on TV from the lounge a few metres away, the body language between Scott and Clark appeared to be a little strained. It seemed yardages were in dispute between the pair at times.

But, Clark is not here in Sydney for the Emirates Australian Open starting at The Jack Nicklaus-redesigned layout of The Australian GC. Clark never was going to be here.

This week, it is Mike Kerr, the regular caddie for Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen who just a few weeks ago won the Perth International. Scott has known Kerr for around 12 years and they’ve always got on well together.

Kerr is no slouch when it comes to getting what caddies say is “a great bag”. The Zimbabwean has caddied for Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Miguel Angel Jimenez and it’s rumoured Sergio Garcia was knocking on Clark’s doorstep as well.

“It was difficult (having that umbilical cord cut with Williams) at the time for sure. We had such a good and successful time together, but those things change and you move on to different stages of your career and life,” Scott told his press conference today.

“But, I’ve got a bit of time up my sleeve, rather than having to jump out there and put someone on straight away. You might think (you’ve made the wrong decision) and have to chop and change, so I’m just trying to buy myself some time.

“Obviously Steve is such a strong character and a unique caddie. I’m not looking to replace him, that would be the wrong way to go about it.

“The big thing is to find a personality and how to gels with me and the people around me as well. We work as a team … I’m never going to find another Steve Williams , there’s not one out there. I’ve just got to find someone who suit me,” Scott said.

It is a delicate situation for Scott – and Kerr for that matter. Kerr is Olesen’s man, but Scott primarily plays the PGA Tour while Olesen is based in Europe. There have been numerous occasions of caddie poaching through the years, but Scott himself says it is a “sensitive” situation in giving Kerr a trial.

The other big decision has is what to do after the ban on anchoring putters (such as the broomstick Scott uses) comes into effective on January 1, 2016.

He says he’ll continue with the big stick until his 2015 season ends and then he’ll worry about it. But, such has been his play which saw him ascend to No 1 in the world earlier this year (now replaced by Rory McIlroy who is with us this week as defending champion) surely the frustration he had with the short putter would be well erased from the memory bank.

It was McIlroy who denied Scott Australia’s Triple Crown of Golf when the reigning Masters champion went to Royal Sydney for the Open with the Masters and PGA titles under his belt.

Scott, seemingly, was marching to victory on the Sunday, but McIlroy produced a marvellous birdie on the 72nd hole while Scott failed to get up and down from the gully behind the green after over-cooking his second shot.

“It hurt,” Scott said of that day. “I was really made with myself on Sunday night. To make that error at that point is frustrating. It was far more hurt than if I’d done it on the sixth hole.”

McIlroy and Scott are not paired together in the opening two rounds but Scott is certainly of the belief the Ulsterman is the one to beat – not just this week, but next year as well.

“Rory has taken his game up a notch this year (with wins in the British Open and PGA Championship plus a WGC Championship) and that’s inspired me to work harder,” Scott said.

“I’ve got more motivation than ever as he’s got the chance in his career to do what few players have done and he’ll be really motivated. I welcome the challenge (McIlroy is presenting).”

Besides, he wouldn’t mind that No 1 world ranking back.