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April 17, 2013

A messy Masters, a beautiful finish

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Maybe winning really does take care of everything.

For Augusta National, sizing up Adam Scott for his own green jacket was a beautiful way to end what had been shaping as a messy Masters.

The lasting image was Scott arching his back with both arms thrust in the air after he made a 12-foot birdie putt in the playoff, not European Tour chief referee John Paramor explaining to 14-year-old Guan Tianlang why he was being docked one shot for slow play.

An Australian in a green jacket — especially Adam Scott, the most popular first-time major champion since Phil Mickelson — should be far more memorable than Tiger Woods holding out his arm to take an illegal drop on the 15th hole. Listening to Scott so graciously pay homage to Australian golf great Greg Norman was much better than hearing Fred Ridley give a tutorial on Rule 33-7.

And one more thing.

Winning might take care of any doubts to outlaw the anchored stroke for long putters, like the one Scott pressed against his chest when he sank the two biggest putts of his career — a 20-footer on the 18th hole that got him into the playoff, and the 12-footer on the 10th hole to win in overtime over Angel Cabrera.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient are expected to announce shortly whether they will go ahead with the ban on anchoring, which would start in 2016. They say the proposed rule is to define what a golf stroke should be, and that they have no empirical evidence to suggest anyone has an advantage.

Results shouldn’t count, either, especially the fact that Scott’s win gave long putters the career Grand Slam.

Four of the last six major champions have used the long putter, starting with Keegan Bradley in the 2011 PGA Championship. Supporters of the ban would call that a trend. Opponents could argue it’s a small sample.

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