Adam Scott said he wouldn’t call it a low point — that Thursday in March during the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill when he didn’t put a driver in his bag.
He said the conditions necessitated avoiding rough and finding fairways, so he elected to go with his 2-wood.
But still, after carding a blemish-free, 6-under 66 at Detroit Golf Club on Friday morning and walking off the course tied for second at 9 under par at the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic, he admitted had he carried the confidence on that day that he does now with his driver, it likely would’ve been in play.
“Yesterday was for sure the best I’ve driven it for a couple of years,” Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, said. “That felt good and I drove it well again today.”
Scott, 42, is second in strokes gained tee-to-green on the week, and fifth in strokes gained off the tee — numbers he hadn’t seen in some time, but something he hopes becomes the norm following the fix he made shortly after the U.S. Open in June.
It’s not that he played badly, he finished T-14th, but committed to the change because while he consistently felt like he was playing well, he found “a couple of errant drives a day was costing me a chance of shooting rounds like today.”
So, he got in the lab with his swing coach Brad Malone.
“Changing the angle of attack, I’m hitting more down on it than I have been and that’s certainly brought things under control a little bit and that’s kind of a comfort spot for me,” he said. “Whenever you’re comfortable on the golf course, that’s a good thing.”
Scott said the rationale was simple: Maximize his room for error.
As he explains it, in today’s game, by always trying to maximize spin rate and distance, his game is always on a “knife’s edge” so it doesn’t take much — a millimeter here, a degree there — for things to go awry.
But by building in that cushion room, the thinking was he’d be in better position more frequently.
Adam Scott putts on the 8th green during Round 2 of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Phoyo by Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)
“Just bringing the ball a little more under control,” he said. “It’s funny because I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed any distance, even though we all think you’ve got to launch it high to hit it far.
“But I’ve certainly hit more fairways and feel like I’m going to.”
He hit 10-for-14 fairways on Thursday and 8-for-14 on Friday, which ranks in the middle of the pack for the tournament, but he has avoided those wayward drives that put him fully out of position.
Most importantly, for Scott, on the par-5s, he has capitalized. Scott found the fairway on all three of Detroit Golf Club’s longest holes Friday, and was on the green in two each time.
“I had three good looks at eagle on the par 5s,” he said. “I didn’t happen to make one, but taking advantage of those easily can always set you up for a good day.”
When Scott headed into the weekend, the only two names ahead of him were rookies Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala. While he didn’t expect his second position to hold, he figured he’d be somewhere in the top five or top 10 when he woke up for moving day.
Asked if it felt like it had been a long time since he’d won, he said “yeah, a little bit.” That was February 16, 2020, at the Genesis Invitational at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.
Adam Scott hits from the 13th fairway during Round 1 of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit on Thursday, July 28, 2022. (Photo by Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)
Since then, the world has gone through a pandemic and he has had another child. He called it all “a blur” but said the world, and his game, seem to be settling down.
It was one year ago next week when he missed a putt in a playoff at Wyndham that would’ve won him the tournament. He has three top-10s this season.
Winning isn’t that far away, he believes, and with some youngsters in his way, he said he has one thing they don’t.
“Experience is one of the few things I for sure have going for me every week out here so I should use that to my advantage,” the Australian said laughing. “If I do find myself in position over the weekend, am in contention coming down the stretch, I certainly feel like I may have an edge.
“I’ve been in that position a lot and I feel comfortable there and I hope to be in that spot.”
Contact Tony Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.