Memorial 2013: Adam Scott downplays legal action over anchoring

Richard Heathcote

Adam Scott is one of nine PGA Tour golfers investigating what action, if any, they may take over the impending ban on anchored putting, but the reigning Masters champion claims that lawyering up was simply an information-gathering exercise.

Adam Scott hired an attorney not to cause trouble for the PGA Tour, but the reigning Masters champ who jams a broomstick putter into his chest wants to be sure the powers-that-be understand his views on the divisive anchoring issue.

“My intention is just to get all the information to me possible from the PGA Tour and...like anyone else in the business, to have some professional guidance on this issue,” Scott told reporters Wednesday ahead of this week’s Memorial Tournament.

Scott, as SBNation reported last week, has affiliated himself with eight other tour golfers who have lawyered up to prepare for whatever legal action they may decide to take against the impending ban on anchored putting. Anchorers Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson are the other two players in the nonet who have gone public about meeting with Boston attorney Harry Manion.

Scott has made no secret of the fact that his confidence has soared since taking up the long wand in 2011, and the results back him up. In addition to winning his first major at Augusta in April, Scott almost clinched last year’s British Open until he coughed it up down the stretch and lost to belly-putting Ernie Els.

The first Australian to win the Masters, Scott enters the week on the strength of three top-10 finishes in only six tour events this season, and off of a T19 at the recent Players Championship.

Scott has moved from 186th-ranked in strokes gained-putting in 2010, pre-anchoring, to 66th so far this year, and has been a vocal opponent of the ban, which the USGA and R&A proposed in November and announced on May 21 they would implement in 2016.

Where things stand now on the controversial matter is that Scott, et al, are waiting for the tour to issue an official response to the impending prohibition after telling the governing bodies in February that it was against the rule change. The 16-member player advisory council met with commissioner TIm Finchem via a conference call on Tuesday to discuss the ban and several media outlets reported that results of the conversations were mixed.

The PAC advises the tour’s policy board, which is slated to meet in July at the Greenbrier Classic. While a majority of PAC members were reported to be against the ban when they were asked their opinions in February, 59 percent of tour golfers polled by Sports Illustrated said they favored the change.

If the tour decides to go its own way on anchoring, it would cause a separate set of rules for the U.S. tour, since most other organizations, including the European Tour, have agreed to the rules-makers’ mandate. The SI poll also indicated that 57 percent of tour players believe the tour should “make its own conditions of competition” and 52 percent were okay with bifurcation.

With Scott and his anchoring cohorts discussing their options with a lawyer, it is not far-fetched to believe the matter will end up in court, whether they have a case or not. That is neither Scott’s nor Manion’s preferred course of action.

“There’s no intention of filing a suit or making problems,” Scott said, noting that, as a non-lawyer he did not necessarily know the right questions to ask. “But this is a business and I’m treating it professionally and I have professional counsel to do that, just like, I’m sure, the tour has professional counsel when they make decisions about things, or the USGA and R&A, for that matter.

“They didn’t do this [declare an end to anchoring] without professional help either,” Scott noted, “so that’s all it is.”

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