If Adam Scott manages to come from behind and win the British Open on Sunday, he can thank an attitude adjustment, his unsightly chin putter, and, of course, Tiger Woods for his first major title.
"I think why I’ve played good this week is it’s kind of a culmination of everything I’ve done over the last couple of years," Scott told reporters after firing a 3-under-par 67 on Friday, which, combined with Thursday’s 64, moved him just one stroke off the 10-under lead of Brandt Snedeker.
Of those changes, the most obvious had to do with the flat stick that Scott wields with such precision, the same one that sends the BBC’s Peter Alliss into spasms of revulsion.
"I think that is the longest putter I have ever seen," Alliss, who is lending his wit and expertise to ESPN for this week’s Open Championship coverage, reportedly once said about Scott’s big stick. "Perhaps he should just stick it up his nose and move his head."
Who wouldn’t love to see that? Scott, however, was not about to apologize for a tool that has helped elevate his game to the point where he will play in the final group at a major for the first time in his career on Saturday.
"It’s brought more consistency to my putting," Scott said about the 49-inch Scotty Cameron Studio Select Kombi from Titleist that he added to his repertoire in February 2011. "My putting with the short putter was so hot and cold, and before I switched it was more often cold than hot. So very, very frustrating to play well and get nothing out of a round.
"Certainly making the adjustment to putt with a long putter took a little bit of time, but it was effective once I brought it out on tour," said Scott, who ranked 186th on tour in strokes gained-putting two years ago and now is 76th. "I putt much more consistent with it, which has a really positive effect on the rest of my game. Takes a little pressure off the rest of my game."
Shortly after switching putters, Scott made another huge change when he enlisted the services of Woods’ ex-caddie. Steve Williams, who was on Woods’ bag for 13 of his 14 major championship wins, may not have been the catalyst, but around the same time Scott began fashioning his calendar, à la Tiger, by readying his game for the majors.
"It wasn't about playing less events, it was about preparing a little differently and more effectively for majors," Scott said. "It's not about not wanting to compete or not being at those events, it's just purely about having a little more focus on the major tournaments ... I feel if that's putting me in a better frame of mind coming into these things and confidence‑wise, then I'm doing the right thing."
Scott said he began adjusting his schedule before Williams signed on full-time, but acknowledged that his looper "certainly agrees with it."
"He likes it, and he sees that I'm doing the right stuff when I'm not playing the events," Scott added. "He can see the work I'm putting into the game, so he's fully on board with that. ... You need everyone to be on board with what you're trying to do, otherwise it's hard work working together if you're not agreeing on the way you're going about it."
And then, of course, there’s the swing. As ESPN’s Paul Azinger has said several times during the first two rounds and tweeted on Thursday, "Adam Scott leading the Open using Tiger Woods' old swing and caddy."
Azinger was not the first analyst to note the similarities between Woods’ former swing and that of Scott, each of which developed under the instruction of Butch Harmon, who coached both players back in the day.
"They could be twins," Curtis Strange said several years ago.
The next two days will tell whether Scott can finally win his first major, whether his "twin" will move a step closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major triumphs, whether Snedeker has what it takes to fend off all comers or whether someone else will sneak in to swipe the trophy. If self-assurance and determination were all one needed to be the last man standing at Royal Lytham, then the Royal & Ancients could just etch Scott’s name on the Claret Jug now.
"I'm feeling comfortable because I'm hitting the ball well and things are under control, it's not just a fluke that I'm up there," Scott said. "I hit the ball well in all my practice rounds and got a good feel for the course, so I felt very confident coming in here."