Adam Scott is kicking off his first start on the PGA Tour in 2015 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship with a plethora of changes — he and his wife Maria Kojzar welcomed their first child to the world last month; with the retirement of his caddie Stevie Williams, he has a new looper on the bag in Mike Kerr; and he’s likely playing with a short putter this week at the Trump National Doral.
Say what? Scott has been using a conventional-length putter in practice this week after using the long, broomstick-style putter since the 2011 WGC-Match Play Championship. This move is in anticipation of the USGA and R&A’s anchoring ban that comes into effect on January 1, 2016. In the past, Scott has repeatedly said he didn’t plan on making the switch until the last possible minute. However, he’s been tinkering with different putting styles in his offseason.
“I’ve kind of enjoyed experimenting at home the last couple months because I’ve had so much time up my sleeve,” said Scott in his pre-tournament presser on Wednesday. “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.
“I’ve putted lots of different ways at home, and you know, probably going to putt with a shorter putter this week. 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.”
Scott has been working with a conventional-length Odyssey White Ice Core #7 this week at Doral. The main things he needs to adjust — besides the length — is getting accustomed to the feel on long putts, but he knows that will come with reps and trying to stay patient.
“I think the important thing for me will be to just stay patient with it for a little bit,” said Scott, who is ranked no. 5 in the world. “Obviously it’s slightly different than what I’ve been doing, but it’s not completely foreign to me. You know, just give it a chance…
“I’ll just go out there and like I said, just stay patient with it all. It’s going to be demanding, certainly if the wind is blowing. But I’m thinking, you know, my stroke and everything feels as good as it ever has. So just maybe big difference is probably on really long putts, the feel dishes of putting long ones. That seems to be coming pretty quickly, as well.”
While it takes time to feel completely comfortable with the new flatstick, Scott doesn’t anticipate the change being as difficult as some are making it out to be.
“Much like when I switched to broomstick, it takes like a day to get some level of comfort once you find how you want to do it, from I guess a fundamental standpoint and your club setup, your lie angles and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “Once you find your spot, it takes a day to get comfortable, and then it’s just a bit of a feel thing, like I said, on the longer putts.
“But I have some pretty firm beliefs for myself; and the basic fundamentals I need to putt well, I think a lot of that I learned through putting with a longer putter, and I think I’ve kind of used them in the short putter, as well.”
Scott has been experimenting not only with the short putter, but also with the claw grip, which he also plans to put into play at Doral. He doesn’t anticipate the grip being a problem to adjust to since it’s the same one he used with the broomstick putter.
“Certainly using whatever you want to call it, a claw grip or pencil grip or something, it’s exactly the same as I had my hand on the long putter,” said the 2013 Masters champion. “So that feels quite familiar to me.”
Scott, whose baby daughter Bo Vera was born in Australia, spent several weeks in his native country, acclimating to the joys of fatherhood.
“Honestly, there haven’t really been too many challenges,” said Scott. “I must say it’s just been a great experience. I was home for nine days after Bo was born. And, okay, disturbed sleep the first couple nights was my only complaint. But it wasn’t that big a deal. I think if you can kind of write up a whole dream scenario of how it should all happen, I think we had a pretty good run of things. It’s been a great couple weeks in my life, for sure.”
Scott, who is getting off to a late start on his season, will play Doral (obviously), then he’ll make starts the next two weeks in Tampa and Bay Hill. He’s also considering adding the Valero Texas Open to his schedule, which takes place the week prior to the Masters in April.
“I’ve changed plenty of diapers,” said Scott. “I thought if I change a lot early, I’ll make up for my six-week absence at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Scott will make his debut on the PGA Tour without Williams by his side. His new caddie, Mike Kerr, has worked for Lee Westwood and most recently, Thorbjorn Oleson, among others.
“I approached Mike to come and try a week or two with me if possible down in Australia at the end of the year, and fortunately that fitted in at the time; he was working for Thorbjørn (Oleson),” said Scott. “I’ve known Mike a long time, too. So I know his personality quite well, and it was along the lines of what I thought I needed.
“I guess once he’s on the bag, they just prove they are good caddies, and I felt good with that. A little bit, you’ve just got to take a chance. You’ve just got to pick someone. 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.”
Does Scott expect Williams to return at any point? Probably not.
“For the moment, I think Steve’s done,” said Scott. “The last time we spoke about him caddying again was at the back end of last year, and to me he said, “I’m going to take a year and be at home.” I honestly believe he’s thoroughly enjoying that, and he’s got pretty involved with all things New Zealand back there that he does, racing and coaching rugby and all that kind of stuff, playing some touch rugby himself. So I think he’s pretty content with that for this year.”
New putter, new baby and new caddie are among the variables Scott will be balancing as he competes at Doral and prepares for the first major of the year, but for the moment, he’s not concerned with all the changes.
“Everything was getting a little boring, so I thought, just change everything completely,” he said, laughing.
“It’s been fun putting with the short putter and I’ve enjoyed it, and that’s why I’ve kind of persisted with it. Whereas into the end of last season, I had not even really experimented. I was just trying to finish the season and then I had some time up my sleeve.
“I thought I wouldn’t play around until the end of this year, but I found myself having some fun looking at other ways to do it. You know, throwing a baby in the mix is certainly going to make for an interesting year this year. It’s fantastic, and you know, it’s really exciting times for my wife and myself, and going to deal with lots of different things upcoming for sure.
“I feel like I’m in a really good place with everything. I just want to get out and play some really good golf. I think I’ve been really productive in this offseason, worked on a lot of I’ve had time to work on some things in my golf game that I wanted to come out this year and feel like I’m in front of the game, or better off for having that time off. So I’ve tried to make it productive.”