Outlawing long putters could cruel Scott

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Mounting pressure on golf’s rule makers to ban long putters is casting a dark cloud over Adam Scott’s career resurgence.

Long-running debate over the issue – which has divided opinions among players and officials – is likely to come to a head by the end of the year.

And revealing statistics show that outlawing the belly and broomstick putters could have a catastrophic effect on Scott’s renaissance.

Since ditching the conventional putter in February last year, after a decade of despair on the greens, Scott has risen from 28th in the world rankings to No.6 and emerged as a genuine major contender.

After just four top-10 finishes from 39 starts in the four annual majors using a traditional putter, the Australian No.1 boasts a runner-up showing at this year’s British Open and an equal second at the 2011 Masters.

He has missed just one cut in eight majors since making the radical switch and finished top 10 four times and top 15 on two other occasions.

Further emphasising his newfound consistency, the 32-year-old has posted 23 top-20 results in 36 tournaments using his trusty broomstick, including 14 top 10s and a victory at the prestigious 2011 WGC Bridgestone Invitational on the US PGA Tour.

Long regarded as one of the world’s premier ball-strikers and the winner of 18 tournaments globally, Scott admitted during his Open charge at Royal Lytham that his old putting “ups and downs were horrible”.

“It eats you up,” he told AAP.

“It’s such a mental part of the game and for me walking out there feeling really solid with it for the last 18 months, I feel like I’m not ever going to shoot a bad score.

“It makes going out on the course less stressful, knowing you’re going to putt alright all the time.”

But with three of the past five major winners – Keegan Bradley (2011 US PGA), Webb Simpson (2012 US Open) and Ernie Els (2012 British Open) – also triumphing with long wands, pressure is intensifying on rule makers to ban belly and broomstick putters.

Simpson doesn’t agree with the potential rule change, saying that larger drivers have affected golf far more than putters anchored to the body, but the American is nevertheless already practicing with a conventional putter.

The US Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club are discussing a possible change, with a decision expected by the end of the year with any new rules set to come into effect in 2016.

“I’m friends with a lot of the R&A guys and the USGA guys. It’s nothing personal and I know they are trying to do it for the betterment of the game,” Simpson said. “But I don’t think it’s a good decision.”

Simpson said the PGA Tour’s new putting statistic, known as “strokes gained,” shows no discernible advantage for players using long putters.

“It’s going to be tough if they do ban it,” he said.

“It’s going to be tough for a lot of people. Not players, I think it’s going to be tough for the committees to really have their stance on it.

“If you look at the facts, last year there was no one in the top 20 of strokes gained category that anchored a putter.

“So the argument of, ‘It’s an advantage’, you have to throw that out there.

“There’s a bunch of arguments going around but I haven’t heard a good one yet.”

© AAP 2014
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