Doral - Adam Scott said going to a short putter was not a big deal. But it certainly was a good start.
For the first time since January 2011, Scott was back to using a conventional putter in the opening round of the Cadillac Championship. He took 27 putts and was ranked No. 4 in the "strokes gained" category at Trump National Doral. So yes, it can be done.
"The putting was really good," he said after a 2-under 70, a round slowed by a double bogey on No. 14 when his approach went long and into the water. "Not that I'm surprised, but I'm pleased that it was. And you know, hopefully something to work on from there."
Scott began using a long putter at the Match Play Championship four years ago. He won seven times with the broom-handled putter, including the Masters in 2013. But the rule that bans an anchored stroke used for the long putter goes into effect next year, and after being home for three months, Scott began tinkering.
So far, so good.
"Certainly for a couple other guys, it may be a much bigger switch," Scott said. "But I can think back to some really good putting memories and making some really important putts. So I have good memories of that, too."
His only concern was some of the longer putts, and he concedes a couple of them weren't perfect. He ran a long birdie attempt about 5 feet past the hole on No. 16, though he made that coming back for his par.
"There was nothing bad at all in there," he said. "It was good, and I made a lot of putts."
Lee Westwood passed a milestone with his 71 in the opening round. He became first player to compete in 50 World Golf Championships dating to when the series began in 1999.
His first one was the Match Play Championship at La Costa, where he lost to Eduardo Romero in the opening round. Westwood has never won a WGC, though he was runner-up to Mike Weir at Valderrama in 2000, and he was runner-up to Vijay Singh at Firestone in 2008.
Next on the list is Ernie Els, who has played in 48 of the WGC events. Els was not eligible for the Cadillac Championship this year. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk had competed in 44 of them.
Masters champion Bubba Watson might have been in his own world Thursday.
The 18th hole was difficult on everyone, and it was easy to lose track. Watson hit his drive into a bunker on the first hole, and then hit his next one into the upper deck of the grandstands behind the green. By the time he took his drop, he lost track of Henrik Stenson, who had driven into the water, took a drop and played from a bunker. Both of them wound up making bogey.
Stenson still had honors on the next tee, but Watson hit first. He did the same on the second hole. And the third hole.
Finally, it was discreetly pointed out to Watson's caddie that he was hitting out of turn. He walked over to Stenson, who was aware and didn't mind, to apologize. By then, of course, it was too late. Stenson had just made bogey.
The 18th hole at Doral played the toughest in the opening round, which was no surprise because it's a tough hole.
With the wind into the players' faces, the tour moved the tee boxes up 36 yards so that it only played at 440 yards. That still didn't seem to matter. Alex Levy, Charley Hoffman and Ross Fisher were the only players to make birdie. The scoring average was 4.60, higher than the par-5 first hole and nearly the same scoring average as the par-5 12th hole. There were 11 tee shots in the water, and eight players hit their second shots into the water.
"You're going to see some disasters around there," said Henrik Stenson, who drove into the water and made bogey. "If you're the kind of person that likes see disaster, 18 is definitely one place to go see it."
Stephen Gallacher played his last two rounds at Doral under par. But not this one. He opened with an 84, taking an 8 on the 18th hole.