Big win rekindles Scott's competitive fire

Adam Scott, of Australia, answers a question at a news conference at the PGA Championship golf tournament Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - Adam Scott is laid-back and soft-spoken, to the point he refers to himself as shy. “I don’t like to attract attention to myself,” he said.

Those days out of the spotlight, though, would seem to be over, at least for the time being. Scott, ice, is attracting eyeballs now because of his putter and caddie, both fire, and not necessarily in that order. Those two things have changed the way we view Scott, for he now appears to be a player transformed to a higher level.

Scott, of course, won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday and then watched as his big victory was overshadowed by bombshell quotes from his new looper, Steve Williams. Clearly hurt and bitter because he was fired in July by Tiger Woods after 12 years and 13 major titles together, Williams lashed back by saying the win in Akron, Ohio, was the best and most satisfying in his 33-year career as a bag man.

I’m not sure the tabloids were that hard on Woods during the infidelity scandal.

One could argue that the emotional Williams led with his ego and came across as ungrateful, considering the job with Woods lined his pockets with fame and fortune (read: millions) over the years. One also could suggest it wasn’t the best move because it detracted from Scott’s bright moment.

For the record, Scott and Williams have talked about the matter, and Scott says all is OK. Though Scott said Williams “got a little out of hand,” he’s 100 percent behind the caddie who has helped stoke his inner flame.

“I certainly don’t think it was his intention to steal my moment,” Scott said Tuesday at the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. “He gave his honest answers, I assume. That’s fair enough. As anything with Tiger Woods, it was scrutinized and blown out of proportion. This is no different.”

One can surmise that Williams perhaps won’t be as chatty moving forward, at least here at the last major championship of the year.

“Hopefully we can let the clubs do the talking the rest of the week,” Scott said, smiling.

I’ve heard some radio talking heads condemn Williams and suggest that Scott should fire him. That’s not going to happen. Nor should it. Williams was out of line, but he and Scott have talked and moved forward. What’s more, Williams is a valuable asset to the Australian, bringing passion and experience under major pressure to the union.

“I think he’s a great motivator for me,” Scott said. “He can certainly push me. He brings a lot of confidence with everything he says and the way he acts.”

Scott, admittedly an underachiever at times over the years, said he even took confidence away from Williams’ “biggest win of my life” statement.

“He’s a driven guy . . . I’m a laid-back guy,” Scott said. “I do have fire in my belly, but maybe he’s going to keep it burning all the time.”

The other reason behind his rise – improved putting since switching to a long putter in February – actually is more important but, of course, a less sexy subject.

Scott’s inconsistent putting in past years put “so much pressure” on his ball-striking and chipping, making him think he had to get the ball close to the hole in order to make putts.

Scott left Hawaii in January frustrated with the way he was rolling the ball. While he was there, Brad Malone, his coach and brother-in-law, was having a long putter made up for him. After about three weeks of practice, he put it in play and saw immediate improvement that led by a tie for second at the Masters.

“It gave me awareness of how the putter should swing,” Scott said. “I was forcing it with the short putter. I felt comfortable straight away with this.”

You might say that was a great development for him, for Scott felt the switch represented something of a last resort.

And to think he “probably” used to be among the purists thinking long putters should be banned.

“But it’s not,” he said, smiling. “Not many use it, and not many have great success with it.”

No player has ever won a major with a putter longer than conventional length. At the moment, Scott, armed with two new weapons, clearly seems the best candidate to end that trend.

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