Matt Every captured his first PGA Tour victory at Bay Hill, but what should we read into Adam Scott’s final round putting woes?
On Friday afternoon Adam Scott held a seven shot advantage over the field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Masters champion was making everything with the short long stick, posting a course-record equalling 10-under 62 on Thursday followed by a 4-under 68 on Friday – he looked a shoe-in to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational and an eventually assume the role as the world’s number one ranked golfer for the first time.
But by Sunday afternoon Scott’s putter wasn’t behaving. His final round three-shot lead quickly disappeared and Scott finished the tournament in outright third place, two shots behind the winner Matt Every.
“Sometimes you’ve got to be hard on yourself; sometimes you don’t,” Scott said. “And I think I was getting into a really good spot and had an opportunity here to run away with an event and really take a lot of confidence. I’m annoyed that I didn’t do better today.”
It’s easy to see where Scott’s problems lie.
During Scott’s opening two rounds he missed two fairways and took just 52 putts to sit atop the leaderboard at 14-under par.
In contrast, Scott’s final round 76 included just one birdie and five bogeys, courtesy of hitting only eight fairways and 32 putts – many of these putts were important ones missed over the closing nine holes when Scott had a chance to get back into the tournament.
“If nothing else, it’s a good reminder on how much putting practice I need to do for going to the Masters and just how important it is,” he said. “And if I think back to last year, I made every putt that you expect to in that last round and ultimately that’s, I guess, maybe what gave me the chance to win.”
It was a bad collapse, and yet another tournament where Scott has relinquished the final round lead largely due to poor putting.
Scott didn’t put a foot wrong on the greens on Thursday and Friday but the focus will be on his performance with his long putter down the stretch. Something which has reared its head before.
A couple of pulled shots down the closing stretch of holes in 2012 at Royal Birkdale, a poor finish at Muirfield in 2013 and the final day drama at the 2013 Australian Open at Royal Sydney (after also shooting an opening round 62), are all building as evidence that Scott isn’t a great Sunday front-runner. He has certainly won a few tournaments when he has emerged from the chasing pack on the final day, but he hasn’t secured too many tournaments with a final round lead.
While today’s collapse wasn’t nearly as bad as what some news outlets were suggesting, the failure to add another win to the bank after being in such a commanding position does knock the confidence around.
Scott is just two weeks away from defending his green jacket and he has recovered from much bigger blows to his confidence than the one at Bay Hill today.
The Masters champion has taken longer to flourish into one of the world’s best golfers than many of the experts had predicted. Perhaps he is taking a little longer to feel comfortable in the driver’s seat.
Expect Scotty to bounce back from this one and be even more determined to go back-to-back at Augusta National.