Adam Scott is a worthy winner but it is now time to ban the belly putter

Published: 15th April 2013 12:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th April 2013 12:50 PM   |  A+A-


Adam Scott threw off the smear of choking to win a play-off against Angel Cabrera, who showed the world that portly, middle-aged men can still compete with the game’s new breed of gym-reared warriors.

So much for the soporific Masters. The growing swell of complaint about a lack of drama in this 77th tournament was washed away by the rain as Scott first struck a brilliant birdie putt at the 18th to quell the demon of his four birdies at last year’s Open and then won it with another one at the second play-off hole.

To disparage Scott’s achievement on the back of an equipment quibble might seem cruel, but there is no escaping the sense that belly-putters need to be purged from the sport.

Scott’s broom handle putter is one of the most extreme examples of deviation from the traditional form. Its extraordinary length enables him to anchor it almost with his collarbone.

With his hand spread down the shaft, the club is no longer a putter. It is a pendulum. Scott has to control the movement only at the lower end. At the top it nestles into his chest and cannot deviate from its arc.

Perhaps the ultimate proof of its unfairness is that the 14-year-old wonder boy, Tianlang Guan, uses one. A teenager is not a candidate for the yips.

Therefore Guan must be employing the longer model because it makes putting easier, and so improves his score. On his Masters debut Guan played 72 holes without three-putting once.

Scott is a popular figure who has fought back from blowing a four-shot lead with four holes to play in the Open at Royal Lytham last year.

But if the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic fulfill their duties Scott, Guan and the others will have to surrender their long sticks after a phasing-out period.

For now, though, Scott can feel great pride in the way he stood up to the older and more experienced Cabrera - El Pato, or ‘The Duck’ - who won here four years ago, and also claimed the 2007 US Open at Oakmont.

A more fragile opponent than the cool Australian would have caved in to Cabrera’s majesty at the 18th. More heavy pressure was applied at the first play-off hole.

But Scott stood his ground and took the green jacket with a nerveless birdie on the 10th. Australia had broken its Masters duck against The Duck. Greg Norman’s traumas here no longer head the list of memories.

Scott won the Masters within the rules. His putter is entirely legal. Now the authorities should start the process of consigning it to history.

It will not affect his legacy. Lytham could have crushed him. It must have made him stronger. After the controversies of Guan’s one-stroke penalty for slow play - and the Woods furore - the Masters bared its true sporting face to the world.

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