Adam Scott can't sweep it under the carpet - even with a broomstick, putting is his major weakness

Good driver: Adam Scott's long game is as good as any on tour. Photo: Getty Images/AFP

Good driver: Adam Scott's long game is as good as any on tour. Photo: Getty Images/AFP

A few weeks ago, my 12-year-old son asked why Adam Scott uses "that funny putter". We watched Scott, the Fabio of the golf swing, hunch himself over his boof-headed broomstick, as awkward and cumbersome and unnatural an object as Scott is the opposite of all those things.

"He thinks it makes him putt better," I said.

Scott’s leading shoulder flinched; he missed the eight-footer.

"So why," my son asked, "isn’t he a better putter?"

Children can be brutal, unafraid to point out the elephant in the room. There are some who have called Scott the c-word, which is ridiculous. No choker could win the Masters or the 26 other professional tournaments Scott has won, and no choker could get as consistently into contention in majors as he does. So lay that one to rest. Nonetheless, there is a question about the Sunday afternoon short game that seldom gets asked, because Scott is a human being and a great role model.

When it does arise, it brings out Scott’s touchy side. After finishing last month’s British Open at Hoylake, he showed his disappointment through some responses to questions about his putting. As if he had come pre-loaded with research, he snapped: "I'm ranked 14th on tour in putting this year. I'm one of the best putters out there."

To a query about when he is going to phase out his broomstick, which will be banned in 2016, Scott said he had no plans until the end of 2015. "I don’t have anything to worry about, really."

"You don’t?" said the questioner.

"No, I played pretty good with a short one, as well." (To which the 12-year-old, had he been there, might have asked, "If you were so good with it, why did you change it?")

But it was encouraging to see Scott showing some honest irritation, because at some level it must be killing him to not have the return that his game warrants. As he admitted before the PGA Championship in Kentucky this week, "If I have 20 fifth-place finishes in majors in my career and I only win one, I’m going to be pretty disappointed."

Scott finished fifth at Hoylake and wasn’t lucky. He played in the wind on the Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, while Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and most of the eventual top finishers were drawn on either side of the wind peak. When conditions improved in rounds three and four, Scott was playing in the same calm weather as a rampant McIlroy and was too far back to make any impression.

That said, Scott still missed an awful lot of putts from between five and 10 feet. He rolled in plenty of 15 to 20-footers – the length of those two unforgettable putts that won him the 2013 Masters. He’s excellent from that length. When he has an eight-footer for a crucial birdie, you almost want him to take his ball back to double the distance.

At Hoylake, he was also brilliant when he was out of contention. When he made a bogey at the par-five 10th on the Saturday, he must have just about given up hope. Perhaps he did, because he then played the last 26 holes in 11 under par, better than anyone else in the field. But it was all for show, only trimming the distance between himself and McIlroy.

These factors strengthen the whisper that there’s something mental there. Scott’s consistency in majors comes from his incredible accuracy and length off the tee. His magnificent long game means he will rarely produce a bad score. Drive badly in majors and you are dead. Drive as Scott does, and you will finish in the top 25; your final placing will depend on your putting.

So, paradoxically, because Scott’s long game is so good, there is increased pressure on his short game. There’s an interesting contrast with McIlroy, which was on show when the pair duelled for the Australian Open at Royal Sydney last year.

Off the tee, Scott split fairway after fairway. McIlroy was all over the eastern suburbs. Scott kept plonking immaculate approaches eight to 12 feet from the hole. McIlroy might as well have taken the 389 bus to the green. Scott kept missing birdie putts and tapping in for par. McIlroy manufactured save after save.

In the end, Scott couldn’t put the issue to bed with birdies and McIlroy hung in there, so it came to the 72nd hole. Scott over hit his approach and made a meal of a chip that members were shouting at him to putt. McIlroy made a perfect three. He never looked remotely like a winner, until he won it.

The contrast was also there in the Open at Hoylake. Scott played beautifully, except when he was close to the lead. McIlroy faltered at times when he was way out in front. But when things got tight, and Garcia and Ricky Fowler crept up on him, he produced his best golf. That sums up why, in the past four years, Scott has nine top-10 finishes in the majors, and one win, whereas McIlroy has five top-10 finishes but has won three of them. They say it’s all about continuing to put yourself in contention, but it’s not really. It’s all about winning.

As a fan of Scott’s, what you would really like is major tournaments played in filthy storms and squalls that would rule out half the field and increase the comparative advantage of the best ball striker. As with Greg Norman at Turnberry in 1986, horrendous conditions would no doubt leave Scott head and shoulders above the rest. But in normal weather, the game goes back to that place: the head and shoulders, and their proxy in the golf bag, the putter, whether short or long.

When the author DBC Pierre won the Booker Prize with his first novel, Vernon God Little, he was asked, "So how does it feel to know how to write a novel?" Pierre replied: "I don’t know how to write a novel. I only know how to write that novel."

All power to Adam Scott, because he deserves success and he has discovered the painful truth that one major success doesn’t suddenly unlock the riddle.

This story Adam Scott can't sweep it under the carpet - even with a broomstick, putting is his major weakness first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.