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Scott makes switch back to the long putter

Adam Scott at the 2018 Players Championship.
Getty Images

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In an effort to reverse his slide down the world rankings in time to make the U.S. Open, Adam Scott has returned to a familiar piece of equipment.

Fourteen years after he captured the trophy at The Players Championship, Scott returned to TPC Sawgrass with a long putter protruding from his bag. It’s the second straight week that Scott has switched back to a long putter, having used it last week when he missed the 54-hole cut at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Scott won several times, including at the 2013 Masters, while anchoring a long putter into his chest, and he’s been the most glaring example of a top-ranked player struggling to adjust to the anchoring ban that went into effect in 2016. The Aussie won twice in three weeks during the spring of 2016, but hasn’t won since, and this week plans to use the long putter without anchoring it.

Scott started the year ranked No. 31 in the world, but the combination of a sparse schedule and mediocre results have dropped him to No. 71 in the latest rankings. It’s a trend he hopes to reverse starting this week on the Stadium Course greens.

“It’s easy to see why I don’t have good scores on four rounds, because two of the days my putting is well below average. And that just makes it almost impossible to compete,” Scott said. “I need to be average putting to be competing, which doesn’t sound that hard to do, really. I should be able to do that.”

The stats back up Scott’s assessment. While he ranks 21st in strokes gained: tee to green, and 25th in strokes gained: approach, Scott is currently 193rd on Tour in strokes gained: putting.

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Scott hasn’t missed a major since the 2001 U.S. Open, and his streak of 67 straight is second only to Sergio Garcia among active runs. But that stat is in serious jeopardy, as Scott is not currently exempt for next month’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

Outside of a win this week, the only way Scott can avoid a trip to sectional qualifying is to regain a spot inside the OWGR top 60 by either May 21 or June 11. The backslide has been frustrating for Scott, who at this time four years ago was No. 1 in the world but now has gone nearly a year without a top-10 finish.

“I’ve spoiled a lot of good golf with a few balls in the water and doubles at inopportune times. Momentum killers,” Scott said. “When your confidence isn’t right there, and you’re fighting to get it back up, that’s kind of shattering. Because it can take you 18 holes to work yourself back to the position you were, and then the tournament’s over and you’re nowhere again.”

Scott is fully aware of his status as it pertains to Shinnecock Hills, and he has plotted an ambitious schedule in a last-ditch effort to qualify automatically. He is in the midst of a run of five tournaments in a row, including two events he has won before (AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational), that ends at the Memorial Tournament.

While a trip to a 36-hole sectional qualifier the day after the Memorial looms as a distinct possibility, Scott explained that he hasn’t made a decision yet about whether he’d be willing to go to that length to keep his majors streak alive.

“I honestly haven’t really thought about it,” Scott said. “I’m trying to be optimistic and think I’ll have a couple good weeks and get myself into it.”