Even without hitting a shot at the Australian Open last week Adam Scott made headlines. He is doing the same as he tees it up this week and reunites with an old friend on the Gold Coast.
Scott will play alongside good mate and fellow Masters champion Sergio Garcia in the opening two rounds of the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines. But it is another item he has spent plenty of time with on course that will be sure to create discussion and perhaps even controversy if he is to win for the first time since March 2016 this week.
The Queenslander is planning on putting his long putter back in the bag and emulating Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron by not anchoring the club while using it in a similar way to when he claimed his lone major title in 2013. A technique that has created heated discussions throughout 2017 and will only stoke the fire further if one of the best players in the world, who regularly battles with the flatstick, starts holing putts again.
“I think I might give it a run this week,” Scott said of the return of his broomstick. “I haven't done that much work with it but it feels pretty good out there. Yeah, I think it might make the grade this week, definitely feel very comfortable with it.
“I've just noticed, like everybody else, that Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron make everything they look at and have done since the anchoring ban and moving it away from the body.”
The anchoring ban that came into effect after Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els claimed major championships with the butt of their putter anchored against their body arguably had a lot to do with Scott and his Masters win. The Australian has long been regarded as one of the best and prettiest swingers of the golf club and some traditionalists argued his putting technique didn’t look the way a stroke should. While also improving his performance on the greens.
Scott ditched the long wand as the ban came into effect and has had success with the short putter since. But as has been the case throughout his career he has been streaky on the greens since the change. Something the robotic Langer never is.
“… it was actually pointed out to me that this year they (Langer and McCarron) both recorded the best ever putting stats since stats have been kept. Both of them beat the old best. You know, I don't know if it's just a coincidence or if they had just a really good year, but maybe they've found the best way to putt,” Scott said.
The 37-year-old had a stop start schedule in 2017, which saw him arrive on multiple occasions for a run of tournaments with a new grip, technique or putter. Something that will be unlikely going forward as the 2013 PGA Champion attempts to have a more productive and forward planned year in 2018. After a disrupted schedule due to the birth of son Byron this year.
“I guess very exciting last few months with my family and having a new baby and all the good things that come with that,” he said. “I guess that's been the focus of the year for me really. It was a lot of planning around that.
“I think I'll probably go back to playing a more similar schedule to what I've played in the past. This year I had to change up for reasons because I wasn't in my normal base and position to practice the way I normally do. So I played the weeks before majors this year, which I actually think worked quite nicely to play my way into a bit of shape.
“But given that the circumstances will be different again next year, I think I'll go back to what I used to do and probably get back more into my practice and preparation plans to focus obviously on playing great those four weeks of the year.”
Scott’s scheduling has been a cause for much discussion throughout his career, himself admitting to being considered a “part time golfer” on Tour. 2017, however, has seen the conversation about where and when he plays go to another level. Most noticeably last week when the great supporter of Australian golf skipped the Australian Open. A move that surprised all and sundry, that Scott himself had a simple explanation for.
“It was more on the lines of the back half of this year just not really being about the golf,” Scott said when asked about his absence at The Australian. “And I know it's the Aussie Open and it's a very dear tournament to any Australian, but sometimes you just can't play them all. I've been away I think too much from my family and I had to decide not to play last week purely for that reason and try and get my commitments elsewhere all taken care of so I get the most time with my family.
“I'm sure I'll play a lot of Australian Opens in the future and I've played a lot in the past, too, so there's nothing really more than that.”
The family focused Scott now picks his tournaments more carefully but doesn’t see it as a hindrance to the high level of play he exhibited so frequently in the past and is determined to get back to after what was a solid if unspectacular year that frustrated one of the world’s best players.
“For me this year I just didn't really get any momentum going my way but I found that difficult, too, because I wasn't hitting it quite as good as I normally do, so that's important for me to do next year,” he said.
“But of course it's difficult not to be frustrated. If I'm going out to play, I want to play really well. But I also have taken a bit of a realistic attitude that back half of the year that I haven't prepared as well as I normally would like, and I do, I pride myself on being really prepared to play, but I'm learning as my career and life evolves and changes that I have to kind of temper that. I think I'm going to have to learn to switch on and off a little bit more in the future.”
Scott was pressed to make comment on the ongoing golf ball debate by the media at Royal Pines and was quick to identify the game’s rule makers and governing bodies as the people responsible for any decisions regarding the issue.
And it is not a too long of a bow to draw to suggest that those same organisations will be paying great attention this week as the 2013 Masters Champion unsheathes his old putter. Openly identifying two players who use the full extent of the rules to play their best golf as a model and noting the similarities in feel and performance with the putter moved just a few inches off his chest.
“I tried it a little bit a few years ago but I was just frustrated with the long putter that last year that I putted with it, so I was looking for a change at that point and the shorter putter felt good,” he said.
“It just doesn't feel much different at all than whether it's anchored to the body or not. I mean, it's doing the same thing it feels like to me. It feels very solid. I don't see it to be much work needed. It feels good. It's just like when you pick up a new putter and you just hole putts, that's what it feels like.”
As always, a relaxed and content Scott is dangerous in his hometown and this week should prove no different. And the renewal of his partnership with his old technique and putter might be just the tonic as he attempts to end a year of highs off the course with one on it.