- Adam Scott's putting woes has seen him drop outside the world's top 60, and his streak of consecutive majors is in jeopardy. Can he put together a good weekend at the Byron Nelson and book his ticket to Erin Hills?
When you watch Adam Scott swing a golf club, it's easy to understand why he hasn't missed a major championship since the 2001 U.S. Open. The sweet-swinging Aussie, whose swing is one of the 10 prettiest the game has ever seen, has teed it up in 67 straight majors, the second-longest active streak behind only Sergio Garcia's 75.
But if you've watched Scott putt in the last year and a half, you'll also understand why the 37-year-old's streak is in jeopardy. Scott, who famously anchored a long putter to his chest en route to becoming the No. 1 player in the world in the summer of 2014, has struggled with his putting since the powers that be banned anchoring in 2016. He's currently 168th in strokes gained: putting for the season and was 198th before last week's Players Championship.
"My putting has been erratic," Scott, who hasn't won in more than two years, told ESPN. "Poor overall, with good and bad in there. I'm not getting the best out of my scores. If it were the other way around, I'd have shot a couple better here and there. And those 15th-place finishes instead are top-10s and a lot more world-ranking points in the scheme of things.''
Scott's relatively poor play of late has seen him drop to 65th in the world ranking—the top 60 in Monday's ranking get into the U.S. Open—and his five-year exemption into all the majors that came with winning the 2013 Masters expired after last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. So, he needs to play his way into the field. There are two ways for him to get in via the world rankings: be in the top 60 by Monday, or in the top 60 by June 11th, the Monday before the tournament.
After solid play on Thursday and Friday, the first half of Scott's Texas Quest For the Top 60 is now complete.
The 13-time PGA Tour winner put together rounds of 67 and 65 to enter the weekend at 10-under, and he was in a tie for fourth when he finished his second round at Trinity Forest Golf Club. He's put himself in position to sneak into the top 60, something that looked unlikely before he finished T-11 at last week's Players Championship, his best finish of the year.
Part of this mini-resurgence is because Scott switched back to a long putter, although he's not anchoring it to his chest in compliance with the rules. But Scott still putted below average over the first two days at the Nelson—on Thursday, his strokes gained: putting was -0.785. On Friday, Scott missed a putt inside four-feet for birdie on the 5th (his 14th of the day) and another putt inside ten feet for birdie on 8 en route to a strokes gained: putting of -0.726.
That shows just how good his ball striking has been, and just how good he can be if he can become just an average putter once again. In 2014, when Scott topped the world rankings, he finished 54th in strokes gained: putting for the season. He's always going to hit it well, it's just a matter of not shooting himself in the foot on the greens.
If he can get into the field, Scott will be full of confidence at the year's second major for a number of reasons. First, of course, it'll mean he played fine golf in the lead-up tournaments. But there's another reason—on a holiday shortly after he won the Masters, Scott made a point to take a scouting trip and play Shinnecock. He promptly became the first player to ever shoot 63 from the course's championship tees.
If Scott falters on the weekend and fails to improve his world ranking by that magical five spots, there are other ways to get into the U.S. Open. He can secure his spot through sectional qualifying on the Monday after the Memorial, for instance. But a player as establish and accomplished as Scott will want to avoid that grueling, 36-hole crapshoot. With a couple more low rounds on the weekend and a top-5 finish, he can do exactly that.