Scott grabs Honda title

Aussie holds off Garcia for first victory since Tour-mandated switch from anchored putter

- Steve DiMeglio @Steve_DiMeglio USA TODAY Sports

Adam Scott is putting just fine, thank you very much. The rest of his game is pretty sharp, too.

The dashing Australian, winning for the first time since 2010 when using a convention­al putter, kept playing partner Sergio Garcia and the rest of the field at bay Sunday en route to winning the Honda Classic. On a wind-swept and hazard-filled Champion Course that was causing everyone headaches, Scott kept his wits about him to shoot par 70 and finish at 9-under 271, one shot clear of Garcia.

Scott put away his broomstick putter for good late last year be- cause of the anchoring ban that went into effect Jan. 1. And while he three-putted the 16th hole from 40 feet, Scott was superb tee-to-green and made enough big putts all week to earn his first PGA Tour title since the 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitation­al.

His last putt came from 2 feet on the 72nd hole after Garcia forced his hand by making a 15footer for birdie seconds earlier. Scott, 35, who made a quadrupleb­ogey 7 on the 15th hole Satur-

day, became the first to win a Tour title with a quad since Phil Mickelson won The Tour Championsh­ip in 2009.

“Hit some great shots at the right times and squeaked out a win, which it was tough out there today playing against Sergio,” said Scott, who won his 12th PGA Tour title. “Could have gone either way. I hit a lot of great putts again today. Golf ’s a game where some days they go in like yesterday, and today they just were rolling over the edge, but I hit a lot of good ones. ... I made some, too. ...

“It’s been a lot of hard work and I feel like I’ve made a lot of good moves in the last six months, and I want to keep it going.”

Garcia, looking for his first Tour title since 2012, trailed by one after making a birdie from 6 feet on the 14th, but he made bogeys on 16 and 17. He wasn’t the only one on the front page of the leaderboar­d to falter down the stretch as Blayne Barber made bogey on 16 and Justin Thomas made double bogey on 17. Barber (70) and Thomas (69) tied for third, four shots back.

Graeme McDowell (69) was another stroke back in fifth. Rickie Fowler, the 36-hole leader, shot 71 and finished tied for sixth with 53-year-old Vijay Singh, who closed with a 70.

“I hung in there as long as I could,” Garcia said. “The course was playing tough, different wind, which makes it very challengin­g. Just a couple bad shots on a couple difficult holes, but Adam played great. I don’t want to take anything away from him. He played really, really solid. I played with him the last two days, and he looked awesome. ...

“I know I can play better, that’s the good thing. Without feeling like I was swinging that great, I still managed to have a chance, so I’m happy with that.”

Scott and Garcia were tied af- ter 54 holes, four clear of Barber. Scott grabbed the lead with a 15footer for birdie on the opening hole, then extended the lead to two with a 10-foot birdie on the fifth. He made a big par save on the sixth from 7 feet but bogeyed nine and 10 after missing the green.

A birdie from 2 feet on 12 and a couple of clutch par saves gave him the win.

At times Scott has stepped out of character and become agitated with the constant questionin­g of his putting. There were times he was frustrated with the short putter, too. But as he said last week when he finished second in the Northern Trust Open and again this week, he has no issues now and thinks he will be a better putter because of the switch.

Good-natured Scott also revealed he sent a long putter to Peter Dawson, the former chief executive of the Royal & Ancient who was instrument­al in the anchoring ban becoming a rule.

Scott won the 2013 Masters using the broomstick. With his win Sunday and runner-up finish last week, he looks like a serious contender heading to the Masters with the short stick.

Especially since he has settled into family life. Scott married Marie Kojzar in April 2014, and the two welcomed daughter Bo in February 2015.

“It’s only been a great transition, although certainly trying at times, trying to balance everything on and off the golf course,” Scott said. “I’ve had a lot of things changing over the past 12 months that I think’s really settled down now.

“It’s fantastic to feel like we’ve really got everything in the family life under control and my wife and daughter, very happy with everything. We kind of have some idea of what we are doing 12 months from now. I’m sure everyone knows how that feels. Just looking forward to many more good years.”

 ?? PETER CASEY, USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Adam Scott waves to the crowd after clinching his win.
PETER CASEY, USA TODAY SPORTS Adam Scott waves to the crowd after clinching his win.
 ??  ?? Sergio Garcia, seeking his first Tour title since 2012, finished second, one shot back, in the Honda Classic.PETER CASEY, USA TODAY SPORTS
Sergio Garcia, seeking his first Tour title since 2012, finished second, one shot back, in the Honda Classic.PETER CASEY, USA TODAY SPORTS

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