DORAL, Fla. – One by one, the world's best golfers have emerged from the dark shadows of hibernation, creating a staggered if not staggering start to the calendar year. The last of those to awaken from that slumber is Adam Scott, making his season debut at this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship with more variables than an 11th grade math problem.
In chronological order, he will begin his year with the following changes: A new caddie, a new daughter and a new putter.
“Yeah, everything was getting a little boring,” he offered with a sarcastic smile, “so I thought I’d just change everything completely.”
To be certain, some of these changes deserve a greater congratulatory response than others and some will affect his performance more than others.
Let’s start with the most recent development.
One of the last holdouts from the anchored putting brigade, Scott was spotted practicing with multiple standard-length putters here at Trump National Doral, later intimating that he will “probably” have one in the bag for Thursday’s opening round.
“Thinking a little more objectively about it at the back end of last year, I thought because I do have to make an adjustment by the end of this year, if I'm going to spend some time doing it, I should try and start now and maybe find the best solution,” he said, alluding to the rule which will ban anchoring in less than 10 months. “It's been feeling good. I've enjoyed doing it. It's not that big a deal. I did it for a long time, too, that way.”
Barring a last-second change of heart, Scott will follow in the footsteps of Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and others, playing his first competitive round in 81 days without the crutch – mental imagery intended – of his much-maligned broomstick.
For some players, such a weighty shift in equipment would be a life-changing event. And it might have been for Scott, too, if not for the decidedly more life-changing event that took place just three weeks ago.
He and wife Marie welcomed daughter Bo Vera to the world on Feb. 15 – and just in case anyone was planning to accuse the world’s fifth-ranked golfer of failing to get his hands dirty, he offered up a theory on early diaper changing.
“I thought if I change a lot early,” he mused, “I'll make up for my six week absence at the moment.”
Scott won’t be competing each of the next six weeks, but he will be playing more regularly, starting his campaign later than any top-level peers in search of his second Masters title in the last two years.
This time, though, ubiquitous caddie Steve Williams won’t be walking alongside him in that journey. Longtime looper Mike Kerr filled in during a few late events last year and now has the full-time gig – a move with which Scott already seems comfortable.
“You've just got to take a chance; you've just got to pick someone,” he said. “I could keep having different guys try all the time, but I don't think I was going to get anything more, so I felt confident with Mike and my decision – and hopefully we're going to start a good run right here.”
To nobody’s surprise, he wasn’t lacking for suitors.
Scott hinted that his list of potential candidates for the position ranged from top-level professional caddies to, well ... some who aren’t.
“There was a letter from a Japanese guy – and apparently he's related to the royal family over there – but even in his letter, he says he's extremely lazy. I can't even remember the whole thing. But I've kept it, because it's just too good. And he included a picture of himself.
“A guy here in Florida, also, sent in a picture of himself – big strong guy, looks like he works out, muscle man kind of thing and lives with his 85-year-old mother. He made a point of telling me that, as well, in the application. But unfortunately, those ones were unsuccessful for them.”
As he relayed those stories Wednesday afternoon, Scott offered another smile. If there is any hesitation, any nervousness, any anxiety over so many new variables in his life, he isn’t showing it.
For one of the game’s most easygoing players, these changes were always going to be inevitable – and he was always going to roll with ‘em in the same relaxed manner that’s gotten him here in the first place.