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No Mere Poser
ALAN SHIPNUCK
April 08, 2008
Adam Scott has swiveled heads on and off the course since turning pro in 2000, but now he's ready to do more than simply look the part
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April 08, 2008

No Mere Poser

Adam Scott has swiveled heads on and off the course since turning pro in 2000, but now he's ready to do more than simply look the part

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So after a few months of diligent work, does he feel different? "No, I feel the same, every day," Scott says. "That's the whole point."

Harmon has noticed the change. "When we have a big practice day, say four to five hours, he comes back the next day like it's nothing. He's a lot stronger than he was."

In the past the bulk of their work was spent building one of golf's most aesthetically pleasing swings, and Scott is candid that he did not focus enough on his short game. He has come to realize that improving his work on and around the greens is what will take him to the next level. "I consider him a very good chipper now," says Scott's longtime friend Sergio García. "He's miles better than he was two or three years ago."

Scott's touch was evident during a stolen moment at the Performance Institute. He was working on his chipping when Titleist Tour rep Rick Nelson handed him a cellphone so he could say hello to a mutual friend. As Scott chitchatted, he held the phone in one hand and continued chipping with the other, to a tough pin on top of a knoll with a couple of feet of break. He nonchalantly dunked a chip with his right hand, then switched hands and a moment later jarred another shot with his left.

Putting does not come quite so naturally, and inconsistency on the greens has also held back other young, talented ball bashers such as García and Charles Howell. For better and worse, one of the defining performances of Scott's career (so far) was in the semifinals of the 2003 Match Play Championship. He was fearless in outplaying Tiger Woods from tee to green, but Scott gave away the match with a three-putt on the first hole of sudden death.

This year Scott has committed to practicing his putting for at least 45 minutes every day, even if, as he puts it, his "give-a-crap meter is on empty." Though he has a few technical thoughts—keep the hands higher, weight on the balls of his feet, not his heels—his primary focus is making a languid, rhythmic stroke. Scott's scorching flat stick at Qatar was an early return on the time he has invested. "My putting was beautiful that day," he says, "maybe the best I've ever putted."

Two weeks ago, en route to a tie for ninth at Doral, Scott seemingly made everything over the first two rounds, taking only 50 putts. He surged into the lead early on the front nine of the third round. But then his putter went cold, and over the final 36 holes he burned 59 strokes on the greens, including a missed two-footer as he was trying to rally on the final nine. "I'm a better putter than people think," Scott says, but he's also a bit exasperated by the question. "In Australia they actually think I'm a bad putter. It's funny, really."

Geoff Ogilvy, another Australian and Scott's close friend and rival since they were teenagers, says, "He has to be a pretty good putter, doesn't he? You can't be up there every week like he is [and] putting poorly. The bottom line is that if Adam has identified putting as a weakness, then he will make it a strength. That's the kind of commitment he has."

THOUGH SCOTT'S overall game remains a work in progress, his life off the course is more settled than it has ever been. For someone so outwardly marketable, he has spent his career struggling to find the right stewards of his business affairs, repeatedly changing agents as he ran the gamut from monolithic IMG to, most recently, a boutique outfit called Prism Sports, where he was the only golfer in a stable that included Shaquille O'Neal and Andre Agassi. Last summer Scott decided to assume total control in charting his career and began building the Adam Scott Company, handpicking a small staff to run it.

Branching out on one's own is a move that players traditionally make later in their careers, as was the case with Scott's mentor, Greg Norman, who didn't leave IMG's bosom until he was almost 40. "Adam has always been old for his age," says fellow Tour member Justin Rose, who is two weeks younger than Scott. "I've come to respect and value his opinion on things. He's someone I go to for advice on important matters."

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