PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA – Adam Scott tapped in a 30-inch par putt to win the Honda Classic on Sunday, and the smile was more relief than joy over ending the longest drought of his career.
A small measure of satisfaction might come from the silence he hopes will follow.
Yes, he still can win with a short putter.
In his third tournament since a new rule that outlaws the anchored stroke,Scott used a long putter the last five years, he made enough putts at PGA National for an even-par 70 to hold off Sergio Garcia and win for the first time since Colonial in May 2014.
“Probably good for everybody who likes talking about it, absolutely,” Scott said. “And therefore, good for me. Good for me because maybe we don’t have to go over it too much anymore. Again, it just reassures me I’m on the right track with the things I’m doing on the greens, and I’m just going to try and get better every week. And I think it’s in a great spot at the moment.
“If I can get better and better, then I like what’s to come.”
Scott opened with a 10-foot birdie putt that set the tone, and he seized control early on the back nine when Garcia missed a 3-foot par putt on the 11th hole, and Scott followed with a 9-iron out of a bunker to 2 feet for birdie and a two-shot lead.
Garcia made birdie on the final hole for a 71, forcing Scott to convert his short par putt.
“He played really, really solid,” Garcia said. “I played with him the last two days, and he looked awesome. I know I can play better. That’s the good thing. Without feeling like I was swinging that great, I still managed to have a chance, so I’m happy with that.”
It was the first time Scott won with a short putter since the 2010 Singapore Open. He switched to a long putter that he anchored to his chest at the Match Play Championship and when he won the Masters in 2013, he was the fourth player in six majors to use an anchored putting stroke.
It was outlawed at the start of this year, and Scott had grown weary of talking about it. Overlooked was that he had won 18 times worldwide with a short putter, including The Players Championship and the Tour Championship. He even led the tour in the “strokes gained” category over Tiger Woods, Brad Faxon and Steve Stricker in 2004, before the tour began publishing that data.
All the evidence he needed was the trophy he held on Sunday.
“I’ve kind of said it the whole time. I don’t think it’s going to be that big a deal for me,” Scott said. “It’s some hard work, and I’m not afraid of that. I’m glad it’s going in the right direction, and I’ve putted pretty solid the last couple weeks, and I want to make sure that keeps going.”