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April 19, 2013

Rewriting history without anchored putters

2013 Masters champion Adam Scott with his broom-handle putter © Getty Images


Depending on which way you look at it, Adam Scott's Masters win was either the best or worst thing that could have happened for the rule-makers considering a ban on anchored strokes for the 2016 season.


In one sense it validated the position of the R&A and USGA. Scott's broom-handled putter didn't deliver perfect results, but it played a defining role in earning the green jacket - not least with clutch putts at 18 and the second play-off hole. Having switched to an anchored stroke in 2011, Scott is now a major winner.


As the Australian would himself admit, anchored putting has undoubtedly helped him finally deliver on his potential. Scott is an answer to those who claim there is no proof using belly or broom-handled putters can provide a benefit.


That said, the R&A and USGA would probably rather a hugely popular figure hadn't won the Masters using one in the week before they were set to announce their decision. The PGA Tour and PGA of America are on Scott's side of the debate and we could be in for a very complicated negotiation.


We await the decision eagerly, but in the meantime let's take a look at how big outcomes would have been affected had anchored strokes been banned from the outset.



Might Tiger have 16 majors if not for anchored putters?


2011 US PGA Championship


REVISED WINNER: JASON DUFNER


Keegan Bradley claimed a maiden major at Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia. The man he beat in the play-off was fellow American Jason Dufner, who blew his lead in regulation and suffered crushing disappointment. Without Bradley leaning on his belly putter, Dufner might have triumphed and, who knows, perhaps added another major since.


2012 US OPEN


REVISED WINNER: GRAEME MCDOWELL


Webb Simpson was the second major winner to use a belly putter. Without it, we might well have seen G-Mac make it three straight Irish winners at the US Open. He finished a shot back alongside Michael Thompson and you'd have backed him to win the play-off.


2012 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP


REVISED WINNER: TIGER WOODS


Now this is where it gets really interesting. With Ernie Els winning from Adam Scott, and both using anchored putting strokes, we look at the tie for third between Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker's final-round showing at Augusta suggests Tiger's nerve would hold, bringing him major number 15.


2013 Masters


REVISED WINNER: TIGER WOODS


The obvious argument here is for Angel Cabrera, who took Scott to a play-off, but when you consider our revised history has Tiger winning the 2012 Open there's a case for him entering this one with far greater confidence.


The weight would have been off. Tiger would have avoided some of his mistakes and putted like the Tiger of old. You might go so far to say he would have romped it.


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