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Why Adam Scott looks ready to mount a serious challenge at next week’s Masters

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It was six years ago when Adam Scott held his arms aloft in the rain after defeating Angel Cabrera in a gripping playoff on a rainy evening in Georgia, finally completing his lifelong dream of claiming a major championship.

Since then, Scott’s star has been on the wane, and he’s seen a new breed of youngsters come along and shake the game up, leaving the Australian to lurk in their shadows.

Scott currently sits 29th in the Official World Golf Ranking, a far cry from his position of third following his moment of glory at Augusta, and then his subsequent rise to the summit of the game in 2014.

However, his current position of 29th is up 12 places from where he found himself at the end of 2018, and a rise of 31 spots from where he stood this time 12 months ago. Scott’s stock is on the rise once again.

Speaking to the Augusta Chronicle last month, Scott spoke both confidently and optimistically about where his game is right now ahead of the year’s opening major, saying

“I feel I’m on top of my game, just at that point for me to go out and execute it. I’ve done the work, and I will do work before I get there, I’ll be ready. I’ve got a good plan. I’m very confident that I’ll be ready to play there.”

The 38-year-old heads to Augusta National under the radar, with talk of Rory McIlroy’s Grand Slam destiny, Tiger Woods’ quest for number 15, and Rickie Fowler’s fresh assault at major glory all dominating the narrative ahead of next week. But Scott’s confidence concerning his chances of becoming a multiple Masters champion is anything but bravado.

Scott has featured in the final group twice in his last five events he has played this year on Tour, and all departments of his game look sharp. In fact, over the previous 12 rounds of every player in next week’s field, Scott is just one of two men who rank inside the top-25 in every significant strokes gained category. Rory McIlroy is the other.

Even putting, you ask? Yes, even putting, which has been a nemesis for the Australian throughout his career.

The improvement in Scott’s putting has been drastic, and one of the primary reasons for this improvement is due to the option players now have of leaving the flagstick in the hole while on the putting surface this year. Scott has previously stated how the new regulation has changed the entire dynamic and art of putting and speaking in the same interview with the Augusta Chronicle; the 2013 Masters Champion had this to say on the current strength of his putting.

“I feel like on shorter putts when the pin is in I have a nice reference point of the exact middle of the hole and something to aim against. I’m not trying to hit putts harder and smash it into the pin, and it’s just more of a reference of aim, but I have putted better, and I think if I were to hit one too hard, I doubt I would hit one so hard that it bounces out from short range.”

So just how much improvement has Scott made on the greens since the USGA’s rule 13.2a(2) change? Well, the Australian has gained strokes over the field on the greens in every event he has played in so far this year. It’s a run of six successive positive weeks with the flat-stick for Scott, a feat he has never before achieved in his career.

The 38-year-old stands T17 for strokes gained: putting this season. To put that improvement into perspective, Scott has failed to finish a year inside the top-100 in this area since 2014, and last year, the 13-time winner on the PGA Tour finished T165 for strokes gained putting.

Scott’s current confidence with the flat-stick in hand has even led him to possess three different options on the greens, all of which he appears hugely comfortable with, as he explained just a couple of weeks ago

“What I feel like is I have three incredibly good ways to putt with three incredibly good putters. I can either kind of float the broomstick or I can arm lock or I can do some kind of claw short putter with a very stable putter head.”

The Australian won the 2013 Masters while anchoring the putter, a component of the game which at the time had not yet been outlawed, and it appears as if the new flagstick regulation has benefited Scott more so than any other player in next week’s field.

The man who is often described as having one of the best swings in golf has unsurprisingly finished inside the top-20 for strokes gained tee to green in eight of the last nine years on the PGA Tour. What’s more, Scott has recently proved to himself that he still has it in him to compete for the biggest prizes in the game, going toe to toe with Brooks Koepka on Sunday at the 2018 PGA Championship.

There are arguably, just a dozen players who will honestly believe they can slip on the green jacket on Sunday, April 14, with experience, skill level and knowledge of the course having more of an impact at Augusta National than any other course players will compete at all year.

Crucially, Scott has done it all before, and with a new regulation stirring life into a man who looked destined to end his major career tally on one, Adam Scott is once again within that select group of players who know that they possess the ability to triumph on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.

 

 

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Scott Grafton

    Apr 3, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    old quotes about the putters. This article is just compiled quotes over time, no real journalism. He has been using the directed force short putter for many weeks now…

  2. J

    Apr 3, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Augusta National should incorporate a local rule that the pin has to be pulled for putts on the green.
    Just looks silly to see the pin in at the Masters

    • Matt

      Apr 3, 2019 at 5:41 pm

      Whatever you do DO NOT watch any video or look at any pictures of Jack’s first 3 wins or any of Arnie’s wins at the Masters, as you might see some silliness and we wouldn’t want that.

    • J

      Apr 3, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      I was just trying to wind Adam up as he’s just a gentle flower

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Opinion & Analysis

Chat with a (soon-to-be) PGA Tour champion: Sam Ryder

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From 2003 through 2008, I had a side job as a high school golf coach for Bishop Moore High School in Orlando, Florida. One of the kids to come up through the ranks during my tenure at Bishop Moore was a young man named Sam Ryder. Now, at 29 years of age, Sam is in his sophomore season on the PGA Tour, qualifying by way of his second-place finish in the standings on the 2017 (then) Web.com Tour.

Ryder played on the PGA Tour Canada in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, he finished fourth in the PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit earning a place on the Web.com Tour for 2016.

In July 2017, Ryder had his first Web.com win, at the Pinnacle Bank Championship, finishing eight strokes ahead of the field. He finished second in the 2017 Web.com Tour regular season rankings to gain a place on the PGA Tour for 2018.

In his rookie campaign on the PGA Tour, Sam had a T2 finish at the John Deere, a fifth-place finish at the Houston Open and a T7 at the Barbasol Championship. He finished the year ranked 101 in the FedEx Cup Race.
This year, despite battling an injury, Sam has a third at the Shriners, a T4 at the Safeway and just last week, a T18 at the John Deere. He is currently ranked 92nd in the FedEx Cup standings and 190th in the World Golf Rankings.

I recently caught up with Sam to chat about his run-up to the PGA Tour and all the various experiences that go along with that.

So, let’s go back to your Bishop Moore days…when I was coaching my last year of vrsity, I think you were a junior. Sean took over your senior year. Curious, if back then, did you aspire of playing professionally?

SR: Generally, yes, I think I always saw myself playing baseball growing up. I wanted to be a professional in Major Leagues. When I turned to golf, I continued the path. I have always thought, “Why put in the effort if you don’t have a means to an end?” Without putting the goal on paper, it was always the end goal: to see how far I can go.

How about your years at Stetson? How did that play into your development as a future PGA Tour star?

SR: Stetson was my only Division 1 scholarship offer, and actually the only school I applied to. I knew I wanted to give golf a shot. Playing Division 1 in Florida was going to give me my best opportunity to get better.

At what point during your rise through the Canadian and Web.com did you really feel like you had what it took to play full time on the PGA Tour?

SR: I’ve always just wanted to see how good I can get. I love the game of golf, so it’s easy for me to work hard. I never knew if I was going to be a failed pro who never made it on tour or make it to number one in the world. But I’ve always been driven by the competitive nature of the sport and wanting to see where I “stack up” so to speak.

What was the most eye-opening part of playing full time on the PGA Tour for you?

SR: I think the biggest challenge of being a PGA Tour rookie is trying to learn all of the new golf courses. Everything about being a rookie on Tour is setting you up to be uncomfortable. Rookies are really behind the eight-ball when they get out there. Until you’re able to get into a routine and develop a level of comfort it’s hard to expect good results. I wanted to stay true to my approach for the most part. I earned my way on the PGA Tour and knew I was good enough based on the success I had on the Web.com Tour. I’m always trying to get better, but I wanted to do it my way, the way that got me there. It’s really easy to try to be someone you’re not when you get on Tour.

You have been in contention multiple times on the weekend and deep into a Sunday, what have you taken as the biggest positive from those experiences and what do you feel you still need to work on in regard to notching that first win?

SR: Biggest positive: playing well in big-time pressure moments. I haven’t really “lost” an event, so to speak. I have come from behind to make a good push. Knowing that when I am in these situations, and the adrenaline is going, I am able to hit the shots and make the putts. It gives me confidence that I am not going to fold in a pressure situation.

Something that everyone is always working on, including Tiger Woods, is to stay in the moment. As cliche as that is, it is a constant struggle to focus on the task at hand. Don’t get too high or low- treat each shot for what it is…

As a PGA Staff Professional with Cleveland/Srixon for several years, I know how great the equipment is with them. What had you join their team as a staff Tour Professional?

SR: I’ve been with Cleveland since I turned pro in 2012-13, they were the first manufacturer to approach me, and I love their equipment from the ball to the wedges and now the irons and driver.

What currently are you and your coach working on?

SR: Having missed significant time due to injury recently, we are just working on a lot of the same things I have been working on, my swing doesn’t change much. Right now, distance control with the irons and wedges is a focus.

Any veteran Tour members welcome you as a new member when you first came out? Kind of show you the ropes.

SR: Former player, Fulton Allem, gave me advice about managing strengths and weaknesses. Some players get so consumed with their weakness that they lose their strengths. Other players maximize their strengths and have awareness and the ability to monitor and play around their weaknesses. That goes along with the importance of staying true to your identity as a player as opposed to trying to be someone you’re not.

Chris DiMarco has been a mentor to me, growing up in the Orlando area. He has been able to provide guidance and support over the past few years, as I navigate my first years on TOUR.

For the most part veteran players as a whole have been accommodating and welcoming and are happy to share knowledge along the way.

So, what’s a typical work week look like for you? Tournament week and non?

SR: Tournament Weeks are pretty consistent…

Monday- is usually a travel day and I make a point to good work out in that day, as it’s a day off from golf Tuesday- I play nine holes
Wed- Pro-am
I go to the gym every day before I go to the course, just to get my body warmed up. Thursday and Friday rounds alternate AM/ PM tee times. I get up three hours before regardless of the time of the round, just to get body ready.

Non-Tournament Weeks…
When I am home, I go to the gym with my trainer, Alex Bennet @ TPC Sawgrass performance center 5/6 times per week. Usually, Monday and Tuesday are days off from golf, to give my body a rest.

I practice on Wed/ Thursday and play money games with other TOUR players on the weekend, to keep my game sharp and prepare for the high stakes the next week. I live less than a mile from the beach, and I enjoy going there to relax. I spend time visiting friends too.

You’ve become somewhat of a fashion icon on tour…what is your take on style and dress on Tour? It seems like a big thing for an observer from this side of the ropes…a way of self-marketing perhaps or standing out from the pack?

SR: I definitely care about my style on the golf course. I’m certainly not afraid to make a little bit of a fashion statement and wear things other players may not be willing to wear. The clothes I wear can definitely contribute to some added confidence, and confidence is one of the most important components to playing good golf.

Curious on your take of the health of golf in general?

SR: I think it’s great. The game of golf is in a good spot. I think Tiger Woods being relevant is massively important to the game, it brings sponsors and more viewers to the game. There is a great crop of young players right now. It is in a healthy, sustainable spot. Jay Monahan really has the TOUR moving in a good direction.

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The 19th Hole: Gary Player, Irish ambassadors talk Open in Northern Ireland

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Hall of Famer Gary Player returns to the 19th Hole to talk about the Championship, his record and his favorites to win this year. Also features Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Dan Mulhall and Northern Ireland Consul Director Norman Houston.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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TG2: Up early watching The Open Live! SPOILER ALERT!

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Rob talks Knudson into getting up WAY early to watch The Open Championship. Talking about live play, Darren Clarke’s hair, and how Rory started his day. Definitely spoilers, so don’t listen if you are recording!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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