Eubanks: Scott thrives with Woods' old swing
Tiger Woods put on the best ball-striking exhibition he's ever seen at the 2000 Open, says Steve Eubanks. And now, Adam Scott is putting on his own show with a very similar swing.
By Steve Eubanks, PGA.com
It feels like déjà vu. The last ball-striking exhibition in an Open Championship like the one we’ve seen this week from Adam Scott was a dozen years ago at the Old Course, St. Andrews.
That year Tiger Woods was unbeatable. Following his 15-shot victory in the U.S. Open, Woods played four rounds at St. Andrews without hitting a single bunker. He shot 19-under 269, the lowest score in Open Championship history, and became the first man since J.H. Taylor in 1913 to win the Open by eight shots.
At the time, nobody had seen anything like it. Prior to teeing off on that Sunday, Woods stood on the driving range during warm-ups and hit one driver after another over the first '0' in the 300-yard sign. One shot would fade, the next would draw, and a third would fly perfectly straight: all dropping over the sign at the exact same spot.
One media member asked to no one in particular, “Has anyone ever hit golf shots like this?”
Butch Harmon, who was standing behind Tiger and overheard the question, turned and shook his head. No, this was not just the best ball-striking of that week: It was the best ball-striking in the history of the game.
We are witnessing something eerily similar this week in Lytham with a golf swing that is almost identical to the one Tiger used in 2000.
Scott not only leads the field in birdies for the week (15 after three rounds), he is second in driving distance. He has hit 38 of 54 greens (with many of those misses being by inches in the fringe) and he has had 22 one-putts.
But it is the swing that is most impressive. With the exception of the fanned approach at 18, almost every shot on Saturday looked solid and directly on line. Every swing appeared perfectly balanced and Tiger-like (in the way people spoke of Tiger when he was an unstoppable force).
Harmon is often credited with the similarities between Scott and Woods, but he is the first to reject that analysis. “Adam came to me with that golf swing,” he told me several years ago when the comparisons were at their peak. “I took one look and said, ‘Hey, I’ve seen that move before. I can work with that.’”
Now the similarities are even more striking. Scott at 32 has the same muscular, athletic build that Woods had at age 24 before Tiger added an additional 20 pounds of muscle. Scott’s shoulder turn goes well past 90 degrees while the club, in most instances, stays just a fraction short of parallel, just like Tiger’s did in 2000. And Adam’s posture and spine angle are perfect with every swing, just as Tiger’s was when he was dominating.
The biggest difference, of course, is the record. Tiger’s Open win in 2000 was his fourth major victory. Three weeks later at Valhalla, he would become the first man since Ben Hogan to hold three major professional major trophies in the same year, and the next April he would become the only man ever to hold all four modern major titles at the same time.
Scott has zero majors and only nine worldwide wins in the last seven years. Much of that can be attributed to his putting. His current putter is the length of a fly-fishing rod, and when he anchors it under his chin Bobby Locke must be spinning in his grave.
But his play on the greens hasn’t slowed Scott down this week. And if he continues to swing as well as has so far, it’s hard to believe anybody can catch him.
The same was said about Tiger in 2000. And we all know how that turned out.