Does Adam Scott's Long Putter Mean His 2013 Masters Win Comes with an Asterisk?
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Five years, 10 years from now, how will we remember April 14, 2013?
Will we remember the bunched-up leaderboard that started play that day in the final round of the Masters?
Will we remember the three Australians who were in contention most of the day: Adam Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman?
Will we remember how Tiger Woods failed to win, and even seriously contend, for the eighth year in a row?
Surely we’ll remember how Adam Scott stoically stood up to the final-round pressures of the Masters to finally win his first major championship after 47 attempts.
And remember how much that victory meant to Scott and his native country?
Or will our memories of one of the most thrilling Masters be slightly tainted by an asterisk because he became the first major winner who used a long putter and an anchored putting stroke?
Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA Championship), Webb Simpson (2012 U.S. Open), Ernie Els (2012 Open Championship) and now Adam Scott (2013 Masters) have now captured the crown jewels of professional golf.
And to some segments of the golf community, that’s not a good thing.
Purists and the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient believe any anchored stroke is not in the spirit of the game and have proposed a rule change that would eliminate any such stroke.
The anchored putting stroke has been a very polarizing issue in the golf world, not only in the professional ranks.
The major champions that use the stroke, as well as pros like Tim Clark and Carl Petterson who have also used it but haven’t won a major, have bristled at the idea of losing the stroke they’ve used and practiced for years.
Amateurs who have switched to longer putts as a cure for the yips have howled about the enjoyment of the game being taken away from them.
Your new Masters champion has expressed strong opinions, but has since mellowed.
At his post-victory press conference (via asapsports.com), Scott said he assumed there would be reaction to his victory.
“Well, I don't know what it's going to do. We are all waiting to hear what's going to happen. I don't know that this is going to impact any decisions at all,” Scott said. “You know my feeling on it all, that it was inevitable that big tournaments would be won with this equipment, because you know, these are the best players in the world and they practice thousands of hours. I don't know that is going to have any impact on any decisions upcoming.”
What’s bothersome about all of this is that any of these major champions should be treated any differently than any others.
Bradley was heckled by a fan at the World Golf Challenge last December, a fan who called him a cheater.
These guys are not cheaters by any definition of the word. These anchored putters, in one form or another, have been around for a long time and have caused no raised eyebrows.
But when that stretch of three of four majors were won by those using belly putters, suddenly it became a serious issue.
There is no way Scott’s victory on Sunday should come with an asterisk. You can come down on either side of this anchored putter and that’s fine.
But there’s no justification to think that Scott’s victory is any less legit than any of Arnold Palmer’s, Jack Nicklaus’ or Tiger Woods’.
The next time you start thinking this victory was tainted, ask yourself this question: If Scott, Els, Bradley and Simpson had such huge advantages, why haven’t hundreds of other PGA Tour members grabbed the non-traditional putters and started filling up their trophy cases?
The answer? Because it’s not an automatic great advantage. It’s an acquired skill that requires untold hours of practice and, and this is a big "and," a great deal of innate talent.
Again, the long putter is not a cure-all.
These guys are playing within the rules of golf as they exist in 2013.
Most, no doubt, will continue to use their putters of choice until the proposed ban is put into place in 2016, the next time the rules of golf will be changed.
Until then, guys using non-traditional putters who are fortunate enough to get their games together during the week of a major and win, should enjoy that victory and just smile if they get heckled or criticized.
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