With caddie and putter change, Scott in form at PGA

Adam Scott, of Australia, reacts to his tee shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Steve Williams has received much credit, probably too much, for Adam Scott's good form of late. On Friday at the PGA Championship, Williams let his boss make the kind of mistake that a good caddie is supposed to defend against.

The miscue cost Scott valuable shots on the final hole of his second round at the PGA Championship. He still finds himself in contention for his first major championship, though.

The tees at Atlanta Athletic Club's 18th were moved up about 20 yards today, requiring players to hit into a narrow part of the dogleg-left fairway. Scott pushed his tee shot, hitting it over the bunkers right of the fairway and among trees. His next shot, a low punch back to the fairway, hit and scooted some 50 yards into the water. It resulted in a double bogey that dropped Scott to 2 under par for the tournament. Disappointing, of course, but consecutive 69s are a fine way to start a major. He will begin the weekend at 2 under par, three shots off the lead of Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley.

“I did everything I needed to do,” Scott said. “It was just a disappointing way to finish that way. I hit a loose tee shot and got myself in trouble.”

Scott was hardly the only player to have trouble with the 18th. Gary Woodland was 3 under par for the event before hitting two balls into the water for a triple-bogey 7. Laying up into a hazard is a cardinal sin, though.

“I thought I hit quite a good shot,” Scott said. “I obviously hit it a bit harder than intended, but I thought I had enough room to do so.”

Scott’s nascent relationship with Williams has helped his confidence. It showed in Scott's play at the par-4 13th. He’d just hit his approach to tap-in range at the par-5 12th to reach 5 under for the tournament. Many players laid back on the tight, 372-yard 13th, but Scott hit driver over the fairway bunkers left of the hole, leaving himself about 75 yards to the green. He hit that shot to 8 feet. When the birdie putt slid past the hole, he didn’t look upset. He appeared surprised that something hadn’t gone his way.

A lot has been going his way recently. Scott, 31, added a World Golf Championship last week to his list of PGA Tour victories. His runner-up at this year’s Masters was his best finish in a major. He seemed to have the event won when he knocked his tee shot stiff on the par-3 16th, but was bettered by Charl Schwartzel’s birdies on the final four holes. Scott seems to be playing his best golf at an age when many players begin to peak.

“I certainly had a bit of a roller coaster leading up to my 30th with my play and my life,” Scott said, “and I think I just grew up a lot on the golf course and off the golf course, and I felt good about turning 30, and I think I've got a really good take on what I need to do for my career moving forward."

Scott also seems to have gained popularity by being the employer of Woods’ spurned bagman. Scott always was a favorite of the female set for obvious reasons, but received a warm reception from both genders as he toured Atlanta Athletic Club on Friday. Fans seemed to be drawn to the good form he’s displayed of late and the classy way he’s handled the Woods-Williams situation.

“I think he’s a great motivator for me,” Scott said of Williams. “When you start fresh with a new caddie any time, it's a good vibe and a good rapport.”

The other big change in Scott’s life has been his recent switch to the long putter. Improving his putting has removed pressure from other parts of his game. Removing pressure never hurts in a major championship, but making mistakes in a major always does. Scott showed both Friday.

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