17 Aug 2021 | Professional golf |

A bad putter? Scott to be an anomaly

by Mike Clayton

Adam Scott putting image
Adam Scott has his moments, like anyone, on the greens. Photo: Getty

Adam Scott teed off last week in Greensboro on the edge of qualifying for the financially very rewarding but historically quite meaningless playoffs for a trophy sponsored by a parcel distribution company.

Needing a good finish he far exceeded what was necessary, closing with a 65 and into a tie with five others at the top of the leaderboard.

Scott, likely the most elegant player on the tour – a role inherited from the great Tom Weiskopf – hit a beautiful approach to the 18th green at Sedgefield CC and needing to make a putt just more than four feet to win, he barely caught even the edge of the hole.

Despite having made 53 of 54 putts from inside five feet all week, the critics pointed to the miss as evidence the Queenslander is a “bad putter”.

Of course, no one has ever accused him of being a bad driver.

And he’s not.

But in the almost 20 years he’s played in the United States, only four times has he finished in the 100 most accurate drivers on the tour. For eight of those 19 years has he been outside the top 150.

Fairways on the PGA Tour tend to be narrower than we are used to in Australia (to our credit) and the payoff for not driving it particularly straight (wild is completely the wrong word) is Scott enjoys the benefits of great length.

In 16 seasons he’s been in the top 30 bombers and given he’s made almost 78 million of our dollars, it’s clearly been a very successful way to play the game.

It’s also something of a stretch to suggest he’s a bad putter. He’s not great, but no one makes as much money by being a lousy putter.

But if you look at the raw numbers, he has been in the top 100 putters eight times and six times 150th or ‘worse’.

We remember a couple of hauntingly notable putting displays, both in Britain.

Standing on the 15th tee at Royal Lytham he all but had the 2012 Open Championship won.

Missing from eight feet for a par was pardonable on one of the most difficult par fours in Britain but at the 16th, a short four where Severiano Ballesteros wrapped up his two Lytham wins with birdies, Scott blew a wedge too far past the hole to guarantee two putts, and he took three.

Whilst one can never be sure, if he’d made the four the balance of the pressure was still on the side of him surviving the final two holes. Instead, Ernie Els twisted the knife with three at the 72nd, Adam finished with two more fives - just as Jack Nicklaus had in 1963 when he handed The Open to Bob Charles.

The following year and with a back nine chance to win at Muirfield he hit some awful putts and was swept away by Phil Mickelson’s brilliant finish

In-between he made a 25-footer across the hill on Augusta’s 18th green and then holed out on the second playoff hole to beat Angel Cabrera and become the first Australian to win the Masters.

A decade earlier when he was just establishing himself on the PGA Tour, he came to the 18th hole at The Players Championship and followed a perfect tee shot with a six iron launched so far left he gave up on it almost as soon as it left the club.

He dropped from the lake, pitched to 10 feet, and made the putt. He was always going to be a tremendous player but at the time it was a life-changing putt.

All it proves is it’s possible to be miserable on one day and great on another.

The ‘Adam Scott is a bad putter’ narrative reminds us of the biggest criticism of Rory McIlroy these days, which seems to be is he’s ‘a bad wedge player.’

We all know Cameron Smith is a great wedge player, something backed up by statistics and observation. His proximity to the hole number from 100-125 yards is just over 16 feet, close enough to tie him for third.

Tied with Rory McIlroy.

The other wild, Australian-related anomaly is the greens hit in regulation category.

It would seem to be a reliable indicator of success on the tour and second and third this season are Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm, the Open champions of Britain and the United States.

Cameron Percy, 135th on the money list, was the only player with a higher percentage of greens hit in regulation.

Adam Scott? He was 122nd.

You think Percy might be a little tired of hearing Adam Scott is a bad putter?

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