Adam Scott ditches the broomstick as Tom Watson boosts bifurcation, nixes Olympics golf

Mark Kolbe

"Dinosaur" Tom Watson backs the anchoring ban -- sort of -- but not golf as an Olympics sport

Adam Scott, who has expressed his displeasure with the proposal to ban anchored putting, appears ready to join ‘em rather than fight ‘em as he wielded a more conventional flat stick than his broomstick during tune-ups for this week’s Australian Open.

Perhaps the 32-year-old, eight-time PGA Tour winner’s practice round with uber-traditionalist Tom Watson had Scott employing a “claw-style grip” with his bottom hand on a putter with “a slightly extended shaft,” according to Omnisport’s Steve Orme.

“Crucially the shaft was not anchored to his midriff,” Orme noted. “There was a clear gap of around eight centimeters between the end of the putter handle and his body.”

With the USGA and R&A set to outlaw the wedging of clubs into bellies, chests, or any other parts of a golfer’s body, Scott seemed to be getting a jump on the ruling, which could come sooner to the PGA Tour than the Jan. 1, 2016, date prescribed by golf’s governing bodies.

Not surprisingly, the 63-year-old Watson -- a staunch conservative (even a “dinosaur” where Olympics golf is concerned) when it comes to the Rules of Golf, among other things -- supported the anchoring ban. A bit more shocking was the eight-time major champ’s apparent backing for separate rules for professionals and amateurs, based on his son’s comfort with a Keegan Bradley-style wand.

"Yes, but I say that with mixed emotions,” Watson replied to a query about whether he supported the governors’ proposal, according to reports. “[A broomstick or belly putter stroke)] is not a stroke of golf...but it makes it easier to play. My son Michael, with a conventional putting stroke, he couldn't make it from two feet half the time but he went to a belly putter and he makes everything.

"The game is fun to him now, so there lies the danger,” Watson added. “Do we take the ability for people to have fun away? Do we go to two sets of rules, where some people can use [long putters] in certain competitions but the PGA Tour maybe can't?”

As for the Olympics, which will feature golf in, coincidentally, 2016, for the first time since 1904, Watson was not fan.

"I don't want to pour cold water on it,” the guy who, if you were to ask Gary McCord, specialized in such endeavors, told reporters on Tuesday at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, “but I don't think it should be in the Olympic Games. I still think of Olympics as track and field and not golf, to be honest with you.”

Watson argued that adding the Olympics to an already crowded year-end PGA Tour schedule would “dilute” the importance of the game’s four major championships. Additionally, he contended, gossip about Olympics competitors and drug use had polluted the “clean and pure” intent of The Games.

"I like to trust people and trust they are doing things for the right reasons,” Watson said. “When the professionals go to the Olympics, they go for the wrong reasons....I'm probably talking like a dinosaur."

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