MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A winless season marked by one of the most spectacular major tournament meltdowns in the modern era has left Adam Scott desperate for success at this week’s Australian Masters, where home crowds have rueful memories of famous near-misses.
Since turning professional 12 years ago, Scott has long been touted as Australia’s heir apparent to former world number one Greg Norman and appeared set to break the country’s British Open drought dating back to the ‘Great White Shark‘s’ win in 1993.
Scott’s final round implosion at the Open Championship at Lytham in July, gave rise to far less flattering comparisons with Norman, whose own Augusta collapse at the 1996 U.S. Masters remains a bitter recollection for many Australians.
Where Scott blew a four-stroke lead over his last four holes to gift Ernie Els the Claret Jug, Norman squandered a six-stroke lead to hand Nick Faldo the Green Jacket at Augusta, and never added another major trophy to his two British Open titles.
With pundits lining up to consign Scott to a lifetime of disappointment and a spell on the psychiatrist’s couch, the 32-year-old has toiled on through a barren season, while insisting the British Open ghosts no longer haunt him.
“I enjoyed the whole (British Open) experience thoroughly and, looking back, I just take so many positives from what I did right that week,” Scott told reporters at Kingston Heath Golf Club on Wednesday.
”Obviously the result was not what I was expecting with an hour or so to play, but there’s always going to be a lesson to be learned from that.
“I don’t think it’s harmed me at all. I think it was a great experience and all I can say, it’s more of a motivator than anything for me to get back and have another shot at it.”
Scott finished tied for fifth at the co-sanctioned Singapore Open last week, adding to a season of consistency tempered with frustration, with six top-10 finishes on the U.S. PGA Tour.
Along the way, the Australian’s putting demons have reared their head again, despite his use of the ‘broomstick’ putter, which some of his rivals want banned for its supposed advantage.
Scott switched to his long putter last year and enjoyed immediate success with a joint runner-up finish at the U.S. Masters in April last year and his eighth U.S. Tour title at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational four months later.
But his putting statistics have slumped across the board in 2012, barring distances of 20-25 feet from the hole, in which he ranked an impressive fourth on the PGA Tour.
With three of the last four majors won by players using long putters, golf’s governing bodies have been under pressure from high-profile players including Tiger Woods to cap their length, with a decision expected before the end of the year.
”There’s no actual evidence that putting with an anchored putter is better, easier,“ Scott said. ”Or, if it is, I would assume everyone would be doing it.
“It’s not just about the professional game either, it’s about the game in general, and we don’t want to be turning people away from the game of golf because of the way they putt.”
Scott shares top billing with Europe’s Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter and former major winner Graeme McDowell at the Kingston Heath course in Melbourne’s famed sandbelt. (Editing by John O‘Brien)