The saying goes that ‘only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun’, but Australian Adam Scott should be on the list. Here at Augusta National, most of the golfers competing in the 2012 Masters like to play their practice rounds in the morning so they can avoid the afternoon heat, particularly this year, as the normally mild Georgia April is feeling more like an oven-baked July.
Augusta’s famous azaleas have felt the heat and bloomed early, and the golfers feel it too. Here preparing for his 11th Masters appearance though, nothing will distract Scott from his practice regime. Having turned to a broomstick putter a year ago, Scott has fast established a blueprint for broomstick technique, and you could see why on the practice green behind Augusta’s first tee, under a blazing midday sun on Monday afternoon.
Scott had the entire green to himself, and he started a putting drill by placing eight tees in a circle around a hole, each tee four feet from the hole. Scott placed a ball by each tee, and with his metronomic putting stroke, he delivered each ball unerringly into the cup, while caddie Steve Williams recovered the putted balls and replaced them by the tees. Scott hit 40 putts from four feet, then 40 putts from six feet, and finally 40 putts from 10 feet. It’s a daily routine that takes up to an hour.
“That’s about how long I figure I can concentrate for,” laughs Scott, in talking to Golf Monthly last night at a small function for guests of Mercedes-Benz. “It takes patience and concentration, and the drill is about going through the same routine over and over again to really engrain it, and it has been a big help to my game.”
It sounds like ideal preparations for the notoriously fast and unforgiving greens of Augusta. “I made 38 out of 40 of the four-footers, yesterday,” adds Scott. “We keep the numbers – every time I do the drill it is a little competition against myself. Sometimes you can hit a good putt and they don’t go in – that’s the nature of the game – but that does not often happen on Augusta greens. If you hit a good putt here, and you’ve got the line, the ball normally goes in – the greens are so pure.
“Holing those putts from inside 10 feet keeps momentum going in the right direction, or it can create momentum. Knowing I can hole out from 10 feet takes the pressure off the chipping as well.”
It also takes pressure of the irons, and generates confidence that works its way right through the bag. This is a good thing: if golfers step onto the first tee at Augusta tomorrow morning with doubts in their mind, danger awaits around every turn.
“You want to stand on that first tee and feel as comfortable as you can,” adds Scott. “It is the same for a lot of guys, but the Masters is the tournament where I feel most nervous on the first tee. It is always the tournament that takes me the longest to calm down on the golf course. Sometimes it takes three holes, sometimes it is nine, before I am actually calm and confident. There is a disaster waiting to happen on every shot at Augusta.”
Scott looks forward to starting the 2012 Masters “under the radar”, as he puts it, tomorrow morning at 8:45, in the company of American Bo Van Pelt and Germany’s Martin Kaymer. If he can reap the dividends of that putting drill, Scott will not remain under the radar for long.
Article courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, International Partner of the Masters Tournament