OK. We can stop talking about the putter, right?
Don’t get me wrong, we should have discussed the putter. It was a big deal. But maybe the putter talk got a little out of hand.
But now it’s old news, right?
The Honda Classic was Adam Scott’s first victory in nearly two years, and putting played a large part in that drought. He was 158th in strokes gained: putting last season. The anchoring ban was a very visible rules change, as well, so it made sense that Scott’s long putter doubled as a lightning rod.
He wasn’t just a member of the Anchoring Club for Men. He was also its president. The association’s most visible face (and boy what a face it is, am I right?).
Ever since the anchoring ban was announced, Scott’s legal name basically became “Adam Scott, Anchorer.”
He wasn’t known as the guy with a Green Jacket, a former World No. 1 and owner of arguably the sweetest swing in golf. Yes, he used a long putter to achieve those first two things, but he also led the PGA TOUR in strokes gained: putting way back in 2004 and had plenty of success with the flatstick.
He’s a respectable 50th in strokes gained: putting this season. He was 23rd in that statistic at Honda and 15th at the Northern Trust Open a week earlier. He deserves credit for making such a drastic improvement since last season. The best way to give him his due is to move past the obsession with his putting (after this column, of course).
He will never be confused with Ben Crenshaw, but he doesn’t need to be. Not with the way he hits the ball. He’s second on the PGA TOUR this season in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He has a win and two runners-up in six starts this season, ranking third in the FedExCup. He’s pretty good at golf and he’s figured out a way to get the ball into the hole.
Is he going to miss some putts this year? You betcha. He’s probably going to miss some important ones on Sunday, too. But so are a lot of players.
Would he win more often if he were a better putter? Yes. Some short misses cost him as recently as a week ago, at the Northern Trust Open. I bet he wishes he made more putts. Who doesn’t? Every player has his strengths and weaknesses, though. Life just wouldn’t be fair if Scott also was one of the world’s top 10 putters. He has enough already.
No aspect of a player’s game gets more criticism than his putting. Think about it. The scrappy ball-striker who makes everything gets labeled as a grinder, a lovable underdog. He’s the Kansas City Royals. The majestic ball-striker who makes fewer putts than most? He’s viewed like the Los Angeles Dodgers, the well-funded powerhouse that can’t get to the World Series despite its abundance of assets. The label “underachiever” is quick to be applied.
Why is this? Because putting seems so simple, is so visible and so easy to analyze. There are only two possible outcomes for a putt: make or miss. Good or bad. It’s not so with the other parts of the game. How much better is a 9-iron hit to 10 feet versus 30 feet? How much better is a 330-yard drive five yards into the rough than a 285-yard drive in the fairway? Those answers aren’t as simple.
Putting seems so easy, though. Knocking a sky-high 4-iron stiff on a par-5? That’s the hard stuff that only a select few can do. Even your toddler can make a 5-foot putt, though, so we reason that the gifted golfer should be able to do it every time.
The finality of putting causes it to be overrated, too. Nearly every hole, and every tournament, ends with a putt. “It all comes down to this putt” is a line we’ll hear many Sundays. It sounds nice, but it downplays the other 99.5 percent of a player’s work that week.
That final stroke is preceded by so many other shots, both on that hole and in that tournament. All eyes are on the player facing a must-make putt on the 18th hole on Sunday, though. That’s not the case with the 6-iron he hit on the second hole. Those final putts are the most visible strokes of the week, and so the ones we're most likely remember. I'm guilty of this, as well. I still remember Scott Norwood missing a potential game-winning field goal to end Super Bowl XXV. I don’t remember another play from that game.
Football is about more than field-goal kicking, though, just as putting is only part of the equation.
Adam Scott wins The Honda Classic
TOP 5 MICROSOFT INSIGHTS
1. Scott is the first player to win on the PGA TOUR despite making a quadruple-bogey since Phil Mickelson at the 2009 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Scott’s came at the par-3 15th hole, where he hit two balls in the water.
2. Scott’s 12 PGA TOUR victories are the most on TOUR by any player currently younger than 40.
3. This was the fourth-best strokes gained: tee-to-green week of Scott’s career (3.25 strokes gained per round). All three of his superior tee-to-green performances occurred in 2006, and he didn’t win in any of them: 2006 Wells Fargo Championship (3rd), The Barclays (2nd) and Cialis Western Open (T21).
4. Scott’s sweet swing worked well this week. He finished: • 3rd in strokes gained: tee-to-green (12.99 strokes gained) • 1st in greens in regulation (55 of 72) • T10 in fairways hit (39 of 56) • 7th in driving distance (305.9 yards)
5. This was the 12th time Scott has led the field in greens in regulation, and the fifth time that he has won while leading the field in that statistic.
TOP 3 VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
1. Pretty. The shot, not Adam Scott. Well, both.
Shot of the Day
Adam Scott's fantastic bunker shot is the Shot of the Day
2. We all make mistakes. How we respond to them is the important part.
Jimmy Fowler aka Jimmy Walker introduced on first tee at The Honda Classic
3. Sir, please don’t disturb the animals.
1. You think your commute is long? Check out Louis Oosthuizen, who will play this week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship after winning Sunday at the European Tour’s Perth International in Australia. The sweet-swinging South African hit 67 of 72 greens in regulation. I was a bit surprised when I realized that this was Oosthuizen’s first victory since January 2014. He was runner-up in two majors last year (U.S. Open, The Open Championship).
2. Jason Dufner may have finished 61st at The Honda Classic, but it paid off. He earned nine FedExCup points, enough for him to maintain the 10th spot in the FedExCup and earn a spot in this week’s Cadillac Championship. Dufner finished five points ahead of Hideki Matsuyama, who was already in the field. The FedExCup’s top 10 after The Honda Classic qualified for the Cadillac Championship.