Change to long putter paying dividends for Scott

Adam Scott
Getty Images
Adam Scott sits just one shot off the lead after two strong rounds
Associated Press

Series: News Feature

Published: Friday, July 20, 2012 | 5:12 p.m.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) -- Switching to a long putter has given Adam Scott the consistency and belief on the greens that is underpinning his challenge at the British Open this week.

The Australian will set out in the final group in Saturday's third round after shooting a 3-under 67 to lie on 9 under, a stroke behind leader Brandt Snedeker of the United States.

Scott, who hasn't won a major, changed to the long putter shortly before last year's Masters and it has transformed his game. He finished tied for second at Augusta, won the Bridgestone Invitational that August and is now two rounds away from potentially lifting the claret jug.

"My putting with the short putter was so hot and cold, and before I switched it was more often cold than hot," he said. "Certainly making the adjustment to putt with a long putter took a little bit of time, but it was effective once I brought it out on tour.

"I putt much more consistent with it, which has a really positive effect on the rest of my game."

Tiger Woods and Ernie Els are among the big names to have spoken out against the use of the long putter or the belly putter, while the game's governing bodies have been monitoring their use after a surge in popularity since 2011.

Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley have won their first majors in the past year with the help of a belly putter, and Scott is on course to do the same with his broomstick putter that he presses against his chest.

"When my game is on, the putting just helps put together what a round really should be," he said.

His game has been on at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

After an opening round of 64 that equalled the course record on the Lancashire links, the 13th-ranked Scott followed it up with what he described as a "stress-free" score on Friday, which began with a bogey on No. 3 and finished with a birdie on the last.

With Tiger Woods only three shots adrift of Scott on 6 under after his chip-in from a bunker at No. 18 and Matt Kuchar and Jason Dufner -- who are both in world's top eight -- both on the leaderboard two shots further back, the two frontrunners shouldn't have it easy this weekend.

"It's a worldclass leaderboard, stacked up a few shots back, and I think no matter what the conditions are tomorrow, one of those guys is going to have a good day and make up ground," Scott said. "So we certainly have our work cut out, Brandt and myself, to stay ahead of that pack."