Equipment Report

    Why Adam Scott didn't have a driver Thursday at Bay Hill

  • Adam Scott opened the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 4-under 68, intentionally without a driver in the bag. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)Adam Scott opened the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 4-under 68, intentionally without a driver in the bag. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

With the rough up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Adam Scott used a calculated plan of attack to shoot a 4-under 68 that put him comfortably in the top 10 after the first day at Bay Hill.

Instead of using the popular bomb-and-gouge approach, Scott went without a driver Thursday. The driver stayed in his locker, and the longest club in his bag was a 13.5-degree TSi2 fairway wood with a Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 9X shaft (more on the T-Series woods here).

“The basic stats are you hit more fairways with a shorter club than you do a longer club, and a 3-wood you hit more fairways than a driver,” Scott said after his round. “I thought it was a premium on hitting fairways here this week. … It’s kind of hard to figure how I’m going to get (the driver) back in the bag for tomorrow. I want to. It’s inspiring to watch Rory (McIlroy) drive it, and I’d like to hit a couple. I’m going to hit a few on the range and see how it feels, but my game plan worked pretty good so far. It’s hard to criticize it.”

Scott entered this week fresh off a T4 finish at The Genesis Invitational, where he used a 9-degree Titleist TSi4 driver. But he’s currently ranked 183rd in driving accuracy on the season, hitting just 52.7% of fairways.

“I just don’t think anyone is particularly accurate with the driver, myself included,” Scott said. “Once you’re up at these ball speeds, it’s just hard to be relatively accurate. Rory (McIlroy) made it look great today. … (My driver) is far from terrible, but I have to say since the middle of last year the confidence is really improved with the driver. I just didn’t see the advantage with it (this week). I can get home on all the par-5s with the (13.5-degree wood). …I felt like I wasn’t really handicapping myself at all, even though I was watching a guy 50 yards in front of me.”

How much distance is Scott really giving up?

Well, his playing partner Rory McIlroy averaged 314 yards off the tee and hit 78.6% of the fairways on Thursday, while Scott averaged 276.7 yards and hit the short grass just half the time. Scott estimated that he gives up about 15 yards on average between his gamer driver and the 13.5-degree fairway wood.

“Tomorrow it looks a bit windier and I’m going to have to have a serious think, because if it was into a stiff breeze on 18, maybe I’m handicapping myself,” Scott said. “You have to have your head in the right place to do stuff like this. Like if you miss a fairway anyway, you’re chipping out to the same spot whether it’s a 3-wood or a driver … and you have to get it up and down anyway.”

Although Scott has admitted his accuracy is an issue with his driver, he asserts the no-driver-strategy was strictly based on the course setup (and windless conditions): “I’m not trying to get away from hitting a driver, I just really felt I’d only hit it a couple times here, and what was the benefit? Nothing. I’d still get home on the par 5s.”

Adam Scott made five birdies against one bogey in the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)