Scottish Daily Mail


- DEREK LAWRENSON Golf Correspond­ent reports from Florida

RORY McILROY shamefully threw a club into t he water in frustratio­n last night after letting his recent poor form get the better of him.

The world No 1 had just recorded his third birdie of the day in the second round to get back to level par at the WGC-Cadillac Championsh­ip here at Doral when he pulled his approach to the par-five eighth — a hole he had eagled on Thursday — into the water.

After a few seconds’ thought, the 25- year- old hurled the offending long iron into the same stretch of water on his way to recording a six, his third bogey of the day.

It isn’t the first time that McIlroy’s frustratio­ns have got the better of him. At the US Open in 2013, he apologised for throwing one club and leaning so heavily on another that he bent the shaft out of shape.

That came just months after he walked off the course midway through the second round of the Honda Classic, where he was defending champion, t el l i ng reporters he was in ‘a bad place mentally’.

McIlroy missed the cut i n the Honda Classic l ast week and struggled to an opening 73 here, but l ooked to be getting back on track when he began his second round with two straight birdies.

However, the four-time major winner bogeyed the third after driving into the water and three-putted the fourth before the frustratio­ns of the course known as the ‘Blue Monster’ truly took their toll.

Adam Scott, by contrast, will be glad he didn’t cast his short putter aside after waving it to magical effect here, effectivel­y consigning to history one of the most contentiou­s subjects the game has known.

Fully nine months ahead of the official death knell for long putters, the great and good have seemingly imposed their own sanction well ahead of time. The banishment was started by Ernie Els and Webb Simpson, who snapped his over his knee to ensure he woul d not be tempted anymore. Then came Keegan Bradley, leaving Scott as the last man standing in terms of players who won majors using a long putter. It was this group who forced the hands of the governing bodies when they cl ai med all four majors between them in the space of just 18 months, from Bradley’s US P GA Championsh­ip triumph in 2011 through to Scott’s Masters’ victory in 2013.

The authoritie­s wer e per su a ded by powerful evidence that less nerve was needed in anchoring a long putter to the body and the plain inequity that such a crutch could prove decisive at a major. Hence the ban on anchoring which, by extension, meant the end for l ong putters.

Scott was not just the lone standout, he was the most high profile since his long putter was t he ugli es t contraptio­n of all. As long as he kept turning up with it in his bag, the subject rumbled on.

It was during a three-month break that the genial Australian decided it was time to change. His caddie Steve Williams had announced his retirement while Scott’s wife, Marie Kojzar, had given birth to their first child, daughter Bo.

‘It was getting a little boring, so I thought why not change everything completely and ditch the putter as well,’ said Scott, wryly.

At home, he experiment­ed with a range of 50 different putters. He tried various grips and methods.

By the time he arrived in Miami, he was confident enough to announce to the world that he was going back to the short putter he last wielded in competitio­n in 2011. He admitted to some first-hole nerves, and genuine concern as to how it would hold up over long putts.

As things turned out, it went better than he could have imagined. Using the ‘claw’ grip favoured by Sergio Garcia, the putting stroke looked pure and he had just 27 putts in an opening round of 70 to shoot up the leaderboar­d as he neared the end of his second round last night.

‘I’m really pleased,’ he said. ‘I’ve tried not to clutter my mind and I’ve shown to myself it really is not that big a deal. I think it helps that I used a short putter for years and so the adjustment was really to do with muscle memory.’

There remain one or two middle-ranking players, such as the Swede Carl Pettersson and South African Tim Clark who are still using long putters.

But even here, they will surely take encouragem­ent from the example of the players at the top.

As for Scott, did he ever feel like following Simpson and snapping his putter in two? ‘I don’t think I need to snap it,’ he said. ‘It treated me well.’

 ??  ?? I’ve thrown it away: a frustrated Rory McIlroy after hurling his club into the water (inset) on the eighth hole at Doral, where he took a six for his third bogey of the day
I’ve thrown it away: a frustrated Rory McIlroy after hurling his club into the water (inset) on the eighth hole at Doral, where he took a six for his third bogey of the day
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