Golf

Scott in major contention with anchored stroke

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP)

It's no coincidence that Adam Scott has played better in majors since finding consistency on the putting greens - and he credits his anchored putting stroke for the improvement.

Scott has finished tied for second and eighth the past two years on Augusta National's lightning-fast greens since switching to a long putter. He's been among the top 15 in six of the past eight major events, including his disappointing second-place at the British Open after leading by four strokes with four holes to play. Scott, though, thinks his regular appearance among the leaders on golf's biggest venue is because of his steadier putting performances.

''You've hit the nail on the head there,'' he said Tuesday. ''It's the consistency with it that makes me putt that way.''

Scott understands his time with the anchored stroke is running out. The USGA and Royal & Ancient Golf Club, golf's ruling bodies, proposed a ban on such strokes last fall. Of the major golf organizations around the world, the PGA Tour and PGA of America are the only groups who have spoken out against the ban, which would not take effect until 2016. A decision is expected later this spring.

Scott isn't happy his style of choice is under attack. He's spoken about it several times. ''I believe they are making a mistake and that's been well documented,'' he said. ''But, hey, they are going to do what they are going to do, I guess, and we'll see how the other powers that be respond.''

Until he's told differently, Scott will keep using the stroke when the Masters starts Thursday that's been so effective for him in recent years. The Masters is one major left where a player using a belly putter or broom-handle putter pressed against the chest has not won. Three of the last five major champions used a belly putter - Keegan Bradley at the 2011 U.S. PGA Championship, Webb Simpson at the 2012 U.S. Open and Ernie Els at the 2012 British Open - and Scott is hopeful to breakthrough at tradition-soaked Augusta National.

He had his chances each of the last two years here, especially in 2011 when he held a one-stroke lead Sunday standing on the 17th tee. He made pars on the two closing holes, yet was left disappointed when Charl Schwartzel of South Africa birdied the final four holes in one of the greatest Masters' finishes of all-time.

''There was not much else for me to do other than birdie the last four holes, also, like Charl did,'' Scott joked. ''I've watched a lot of Masters, seen a lot of finishes (and) when you're a one-shot lead on 17 and you make two fours, that usually puts you somewhere in a playoff or maybe win. But I wasn't even close.''

Scott finished two shots behind Schwartzel.

Last year, Scott put himself in a difficult hole early on with an opening 75. He got himself into the top 10 with a closing 66, which included a hole-in-one on the par-3, 16th hole.

Scott's character test came later in 2012 when he appeared on the way to his first-ever major with that large lead - four up, four to play - over Els at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's. But Scott made all bogeys down the stretch, handing the claret jug to Els, the Big Easy's fourth career major championship.

Scott put aside the collapse and recovered with several strong finishes to end the year. He was tied for 11th at the PGA Championships on Kiawah Island's famed Ocean Course. He had back-to-back top 10s in the FedEx Cup playoffs at the Deustche Bank and BMW championships.

Scott was proud of what he discovered about his mettle after the British Open. ''Of course, there was disappointment, but to see the big picture,'' he said. ''I hope to contend in a lot more majors and I'm hopeful to win some. I don't want to lose anymore, but it's inevitable if you contend in a lot.''

Scott's followed a similar pre-Masters plan this season that's worked for him the past two years. He's learned what it takes to contend in majors and is ready for more. ''I feel like I've got all the boxes ticked and it's down to execution.''

Tagged: Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott

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