PINEHURST, N.C. – When Adam Scott won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last month in a playoff, he became the first to complete the so-called Texas Slam, having captured the 2007 Shell Houston Open, 2008 HP Byron Nelson Championship and 2010 Valero Texas Open.
“That’s a good slam to start with,” Scott said at the time. “I’ll see if I can find some kind of other slam eventually in my career.”
With a Masters title already under his belt, Scott enters a major as the world’s No. 1 ranked player for the first time this week at Pinehurst No. 2. But of the four majors, the U.S. Open is the only one in which Scott has never recorded a top-10 finish. In fact, in 12 starts he has missed the cut six times and never done better than his 15th-place finish in 2012 at Olympic Club near San Francisco. What has held him back from being a serious contender for the Open trophy?
“It’s hard to put your finger on a lot of it,” Scott said.
A search of his stats reveals that Scott, known as one of the best drivers of the golf ball, has sprayed his tee shots and paid the price. On the two occasions when he managed to rank among the top 10 in greens in regulation (2006 and 2008), his putter rebelled. Scott has never averaged fewer than 30 putts per round at the U.S. Open, or ranked better than 32nd among players making the cut. But this year, Scott has adopted the AimPoint Express Read technique for reading greens and his putting has improved significantly. This season, he ranks 15th in strokes gained putting on Tour.
Scott validated the No. 1 ranking with his victory at Colonial, a course that forced him to dial down his long game, play precision irons and maintain judicious judgment between boldness and good sense.
“People say great wedge players win there,” Scott said. “I’d like to put my name in that category as well. There’s been a lot of hard work on my shorter clubs over the last couple of years to get there. I’m trying to build a game that can compete at any event.”
In addition to his putting, Scott has made noted improvement in his chipping game, which could be vital at a course where he said, “imagination is going to be a big thing.”
“Everyone is going to miss a few more greens this week than they’re used to. So they better be ready for that. And patience will be tested,” Scott said.
Sounds like the right attitude for the national championship, no?
“It’s a good week for me to turn the corner and get in contention,” Scott said. “I think this course sets up well for me.”