08 Dec 2012
As Adam Scott slowly but surely recovers from a slow start and puts himself in contention for his second Emirates Australian Open title, it is clear that the measures the 32 year old has put in place over the past two years have built a consistency in his game that was lacking in the past.
One look at major championship performances alone tells the story of a golfer who now contends regularly at the elite level.
In Scott's first 39 appearances in major championships he was only four times inside the top ten.
However in the last eight, spanning 2011 and 2012, he has recorded four top tens including two runner-up finishes.
It has been a significant turnaround.
There is little doubt that the cumulative effect of the experiences he has gained through a professional career which began in 2000, has had an impact but the deliberate changes to his game of late and his approach to it have played a key role in taking him to a greater level of consistency.
In 2010, Scott, after working for more than ten years with internationally renowned coach, Butch Harmon, began working with his brother in law Brad Malone.
Englishman Malone, already a golf coach at Arundel Hills on the Gold Coast, had obviously become familiar with Scott's game and the mechanics of his swing because of the family connection but in 2010 the arrangement was formalised.
While Scott had developed considerably as a player under the watchful eye of Harmon, who he met while playing collegiate golf in Nevada, the logistics of the pair catching up on a regular basis clearly played a role in Scott considering other alternatives.
The next factor that would make a difference to Scott was the decision to revise his schedule in order to gear all of his preparations to performing well in the most significant events and more especially the majors.
"When you play a slightly reduced schedule from to other people, you have to be hard enough to be disciplined when you work at home." Scott told PGA Tour earlier in 2012.
"That's something I kind of adopted last year and I found just as much satisfaction in the process and the practice as I get out of any result."
"I think I manage my time better with what I do with everything, with the tournaments I play and preparing for them and practising," added Scott earlier this week.
"I work a little more efficiently. That suits me. It keeps me fresh, playing well, wanting to work hard, wanting to practise and competitive.”
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In early 2011 Scott began using the long putter in competition.
One of the problems of being such a good ball striker is that a golfer creates more birdie opportunities than others and the number of misses are therefore accentuated. But there was little doubt that the inconsistency on the greens was hindering Scott from getting to the level he needed to in order to be a regular contender in major championships.
Saving par is an essential requirement of success in major championship golf and Scott often struggled in that department.
Funnily enough it was his coach Brad Malone who inadvertently introduced Scott to the long putter. Malone had one and Scott began to experiment with it got comfortable very quickly.
Scott began using it in competition in early 2011 but it was his stunning performance at Augusta National at the Masters that year which made the world sit up and take notice. If ever there was a golf course and greens that would expose any weakness in a new putting style it would be those of Augusta National's but Scott's runner-up finish, his best ever in a major championship to that point, told the story.
The last piece of the jigsaw came with the introduction of caddy Steve Williams. The pair's first tournament together came, controversially perhaps, when Williams took the bag at the 2011 US Open.
Williams was still officially under the employ of Tiger Woods, who was injured at the time, but he had been given permission to work for Scott at Congressional. Soon after, however, the 12 year partnership between Woods and Williams came to an end which left Williams free to work for Scott on a permanent basis.
Williams added yet another dimension to Scott's approach to the game.
There appeared to be a greater focus and steely manner about Scott with Williams on the bag. Williams has a decisive and direct approach to caddying and life in general and it would rub off on Scott on the golf course who appeared at times as if he needed just that.
A look at Adam Scott's results since tell the story of a golfer who knew he needed to make changes if things were to improve.
He has done this and the results have come.
There have been 17 top ten finishes since March of 2011, two of those victories at the WGC Bridgestone and the Talisker Masters in Australia. More importantly however have been the four top tens (six top twenties) in his last eight appearances in major championships.
As the saying goes if you keep doing what you've always done you will keep getting what you have always gotten.
Adam Scott is certainly now getting more than what he has always gotten and appears to be on track to get a lot more.
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