Golf Australia

Scott wins gunfight with Sergio

 

Adam Scott
Adam Scott wins for the 12th time on the PGA Tour.

 

Australia's Adam Scott has secured a groundbreaking win, the first since his return to a regulation-length putter, in a thrilling Florida gunfight with Sergio Garcia.

Scott won the Honda Classic at the penal, watery PGA National course after going into the final round tied for the lead with Spain's Garcia.

It is his first victory since mid-2014, when he was the No.1 player in the world, and he has been in a period of transition with the ban on anchoring as well as the birth of his first child.

Most importantly it shows the world that he can still win without the long putter, a fact that was obvious but still a point of debate since the anchoring ban came into effect at the end of last year. He was No. 3 in the world before he ever picked up a long putter, but today is some kind of vindication.

A month out from the Masters, it is a perfect tonic for 35-year-old Scott, who won the fabled tournament in 2013 to become Augusta's first Australian champion.

Scott's win was all the more remarkable for the fact he made a quadruple bogey seven on the par-three 15th on Saturday when he first took control of the tournament. Only three players in three decades won a PGA Tour event after taking a quadruple at any stage.

The Queenslander was solid down the stretch today. Starting out in a shootout with Garcia, he birdied the first and fifth to take control. Through eight holes, he led by two shots, but then missed fairways at the ninth and 10th saw him give back shots and hand Garcia a share of the lead.

A bogey by Garcia at the 11th saw Scott back in the lead and he would not surrender it, although he had to make his way through the infamous Bear Trap, the stretch of three holes from the 15th to 17th so-called because Jack Nicklaus was the designer.

At the par-four 12th, Scott hit one of the shots of his career, and it was a game-changer. From 140 metres out and in a fairway trap, the Australian carved his iron shot over trees and up to within kick-in distance for birdie. He moved back to a two-shot lead there, before the Spaniard's great birdie at the 14th brought it back to one and the Bear Trap loomed.

At the 15th, Scott three-putted for bogey, but Garcia also dropped a shot, tugging his tee shot left of the green. Then Garcia blinked; at the 17th he missed the green left again and took bogey. By the time they reached the 18th tee, Scott was two shots ahead.

Scott made a safe par at the par-five 18th, finishing with a tap-in for the victory and a closing even-par 70, one better than Garcia's 71. It was his 12th official victory on the PGA Tour and he has moved to third on the Fedex Cup rankings after finishing tied-second last week at the Northern Trust Open.

The former world No. 1 said his game was improving after a disappointing 2015 season. "My game's come into a really good spot at the end of last year and now starting out this year,'' he said. "We've been working hard because it was a little bit loose, it was slipping last year, the consistency wasn't there. I've made some nice progress especially obviously, noticeably on the greens, and it paid off this week.''

Garcia was philosophical. "He played better than me, at the end of the day,'' said the Spaniard. "It's as simple as that.''

Another Australian, John Senden, finished tied-10th as the players prepare to move on to the lucrative World Golf Championship Cadillac Championship next week.

20 April 2016
Golf Australia