Ernie Els tunes up for Masters with short putter; Adam Scott calls pending anchoring ban a “mistake”

Richard Heathcote

Ernie Els sees the handwriting on the wall, and while he’ll use a putter of conventional length in his final Masters tune-up, the four-time major champ who was anti-belly putter before becoming an evangelist for the other side will jam a big bat into his gut at Augusta.

Meanwhile, taking time out from the PGA Tour-sanctioned Laughingstock Travesty Cup in Orlando, Adam Scott and Tim Clark renewed their campaigns for the USGA and R&A to shock the golf world by letting them continue clamping their long wands to various parts of their bodies.

“My belief is [golf’s governing boards] are making a mistake with this decision,” Scott told Golf Channel’s Gary McCord as the trio sauntered down the Isleworth Golf & Country Club fairway on Tuesday. “I have to question the methodology they’ve used in getting to this proposed ban and maybe banning it is based on zero evidence whatsoever.”

Scott, who has fixed his broomstick baton to his sternum since 2011, blasted the expected ban on the anchored putting stroke, which the game's regulators proposed in November, as nothing more than a flimsy notion.

“I don’t think their opinion is any more relevant than mine or yours or anyone at home playing on the weekend because they’re basing this on no evidence, on a whim,” said the Australian winner of eight official PGA Tour victories.

His South African colleague, who played on Tiger Woods’ winning Team Albany in the so-called World Golf and Country Club championship (seriously), complained that outlawing a practice he’s employed for 15 years was completely arbitrary.

“It’s been allowed since the game began, essentially, and it's come up for revision a few times and it’s been passed,” Clark said. “We just feel the timing of this right now is really unfair. A lot of us have built careers out here and would like to stay out here.”

Both players clearly hoped that everyone else would come around to tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s way of thinking -- he’s anti-ban while most other tours will go along with the governors -- but each said he would take a wait-and-see approach.

Scott, however, sounded resigned to his fate, much as Els appeared to be.

“The other tours made their stance very clear and that’s all we can go on for the moment,” said Scott. “We’ll just have to adjust at some point.”

That’s pretty much the approach Els seemed to take.

"I'll be using the short putter," Els said ahead of this week’s inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic. "But even if I won here this week, I will use the belly putter at the Masters simply because the greens are so quick over there.

"But after the Masters,” the reigning British Open champion conceded, “I'll try to use the short putter more regularly."

Els looked forward to returning to the Masters after playing in it for 18 consecutive years but failing to qualify for the men’s first major of the season in 2012.

"I think I used to put so much pressure on myself," said Els, whose last decent performance in Augusta was when he finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson’s first major win in 2004. "And this year, I just want to enjoy it a bit more.”

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