Date: May 30, 2013
Author: Martin Blake /

Scott ready to fight on two fronts

Adam Scott is up for a fight in Dublin, Ohio, this weekend as he returns to tournament golf. He is also readying himself for a stoush over long putters after the game s authorities announced that anchoring will be banned from 2016. It is Memorial Tournament time, meaning the tour rolls into Jack Nicklaus place, Muirfield Village Golf Club, at the course the Golden Bear designed himself in his hometown. It is one of the better tournaments on tour, and draws one of the strongest fields. Tiger Woods will be there, having won the Memorial five times including last year, when his amazing flop shot hole-out at the par-three 16th hole set up the victory. Nicklaus himself, the only man to have won more major titles than Woods, rated that shot up with the best he had ever seen. Rory McIlroy is there, too, still trying to find the A-game that has left him momentarily, and Scott, the Masters champion, rounds out the top three in the world. In fact there are 17 of the world s top 25 in the field, including nine Australians. The tournament has been kind to antipodean visitors, with Greg Norman twice winning (in 1990 and 1995) and David Graham in 1980. Scott is playing just his seventh tournament of the season but will be one of the favourites on the back of his Masters triumph in April. He also played well at Sawgrass in the Players Championship, where he finished tied-19th, and this is a pattern. The Queenslander is always playing well of late, so it seems. Part of it seems to be his crafty scheduling, which leaves the bulk of his workload in the back half of the season, focussing on the majors and the tour playoffs. And part of it is his confidence with the long putter, which he took up at coach Brad Malone s suggestion in 2011. Many people have speculated about Scott s future since the recent announcement by the game s lawmakers, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, and the United States Golf Association, that anchoring would be banned from 2016. Scott believes the longer putter helps him, and argues that he can use the implement without anchoring it. All that is required is a shift of his left hand away from his chest, if it comes to that. He has spoken out often against the anchoring ban, and last year made personal representations to the authorities at the R and A to make his position clear. His view is that golf has bigger problems, such as the distance that golf balls travel nowadays. According to, he is also part of a group of nine US Tour players who have retained a lawyer to represent them, a move that can only point to the potential for a legal duel. South Africa s Tim Clark and Swede Carl Pettersson are that group, all of whom use long putters, and they met with the lawyer, Harry L Manion III, a founding partner in the Boston law firm of Cooley Manion Jones, recently at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Right now, the players are awaiting the PGA Tour s response to the ban on anchoring, with the tour having told the authorities during the period of discussion in February that it opposed any change. Technically the tour could ignore the ban and allow anchoring, although that would cause a split in world golf that few people want. The European Tour has said it will accept the ban; many professionals headed by Woods have spoken out against anchoring, saying they believe it provides an unfair advantage to nervous putters. Many observers believe the issue is headed for the courts, but Manion told there was no legal action planned as such. “Nobody wants to litigate, so you hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” he said. “I am optimistic that the (PGA) Tour will not follow this rule.” Clark, a Presidents Cup star and the 2008 Australian Open champion, is one player who has said the ban could ruin his future. The South African changed to a broomstick-style putter during his American college days because of of a congenital wrist problem. “Now we are going to have to explore our options, he said recently. I planned to play until I physically no longer could play. Now I&aposve been told I&aposm going to have to change the way I putt in a few years. Now my future is uncertain.” Pettersson also has said the ban would be grossly unfair . As for Scott, his mind doubtless will be on the Memorial for now, and he gets a bonus in that Muirfield Village is also the venue for the Presidents Cup in October. Scott will lead the International team against the United States then, and the likes of Jason Day, another Australian who is teeing it up this week and a certain member of the International team, also will get a close look at the Presidents Cup venue. Scott tees off with close pal Ernie Els and another South African, Charl Schwartzel, on Thursday night. International team captain Nick Price will have a close eye on that trio to see how they handle the Golden Bear s signature course this time around. The other Australians are Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Matt Jones, John Senden, Robert Allenby, Marc Leishman, Greg Chalmers and Aaron Baddeley.