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A Masterful Week

A Masterful Week

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Published by Grant Dodd
"...for others by the uncomfortable juxtaposition of the ungainly club against his athleticism and flawless technique."
"...for others by the uncomfortable juxtaposition of the ungainly club against his athleticism and flawless technique."

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Published by: Grant Dodd on Jun 24, 2011
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06/24/2011

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[ VIEWPOINT ] TOUR TALES & TRUE

Grant Dodd
Adam Scott’s sudden turnaround in putting form – and runnerup Masters finish – reignited debate over the legality of long putters.

Long putters and Masters droughts
Has there ever been a more exhilarating final round in a major championship than the 2011 Masters? No doubt there will be references made to legendary duels of yesteryear if discussion arose, but for excitement, suspense and sheer quality of golf it is hard to mount an argument to the contrary. The thrust and parry of the back nine in particular was mesmerising. Charl Schwartzel’s closing quartet of birdies underlined his performance as one of class and courage. The best player won. And no-one could be crucified for losing the tournament, even allowing for third-round leader Rory McIlroy’s ignominious finish, meaning that the headline writers had no alternative other than to dwell on the positives that emerged from one of golf’s most memorable days. For Australia, it was another case of: close, but no cigar. Adam Scott and Jason Day played dynamic golf under the gun on Sunday, their tie for second place equalling the best ever performance by an Australian in the opening major of the year. Neither can have too many regrets for they were simply outplayed on the day. Both efforts are worthy of greater examination. It was Day’s first Masters appearance, and the degree of comfort he exhibited when taking on the challenges of Augusta National suggests that he’ll contend on a regular basis in the second week of April. It seems an eternity ago that he was widely lambasted for having the temerity to suggest he was looking to knock world No.1, Tiger Woods, off his perch. Such precociousness appeared misplaced at the time, but in the interim he has won on the US PGA Tour and now finds himself, at 23 years of age, ranked in the top 25 players in the world. On current evidence his once lofty ambition no longer appears out of reach. The fire in Adam Scott’s eyes as he walked off the 72nd green was palpable. Few have ever made the game look as easy as the Queenslander, and despite having occupied the world’s top 10 for a good stretch of his career, this almost tangible oversupply of talent has deemed him an underachiever in the eyes of many. But the emotion and energy emanating from Scott at the close of play hinted at an awakening, an awareness that a fresh chapter in his career is currently being penned. A new coach and singledom may well be contributing factors. The addition of a 49-inch club in his bag, however, appears to be the most significant change, and one that is already showing results.

To ask Grant a question, e-mail us at golfdig@ newsmagazines.com.au

Scott’s inability to hole short putts at crucial stages of majors has been well documented. After switching to the broomstick putter in recent months, his confidence has improved markedly, and his work on Augusta’s tricky greens suggests that at last he may have found a stroke that will be a compatible partner to his imperious ball-striking. However compatible, it hasn’t stopped a reemergence of the debate about the legality of the ‘broomstick’ putter. This has been initiated for some through Scott being the most visible and highly ranked player to use such a method, and for others by the uncomfortable juxtaposition of the ungainly club against his athleticism and flawless technique. He’ll likely give short shrift to such irrelevancies. The one glaring omission from his CV is a major title, and rarely has an equipment change affected the probability of this occurrence so profoundly. Were he to finish one place higher at Augusta in years ahead, the asterisk perennially affixed beside his name won’t refer anymore to “the best never”, or to the first player to win with a long putter. In all likelihood, it will refer to him being the first Australian to win the Masters. When it happens, we, and he, won’t quibble about the means to the end.

48

/ JUNE 2011

CHARLES LABERGE

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