PGA president Bishop says bifurcation possible

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2013, 9:08 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem suggested that under certain circumstances he would be in favor of the bifurcation of the Rules of Golf, although he added he is “not so sure bifurcation is important in this particular case” when asked about the potential new rule that would ban anchoring.

On Thursday, however, PGA of America president Ted Bishop seemed to join a growing list of industry heavyweights who think it may be time to consider two sets of rules, one for professionals and another for amateurs.

“(Finchem’s comments) are pretty interesting and powerful words from somebody of his stature,” Bishop said.

“Maybe we are at a point where we need to consider what impact bifurcation would have and if that's an answer or a potential answer to this situation, so that we can avoid some sticky issues like we are currently involved in with banning a long putter and anchoring or even some of the issues that possibly come up in the future.”


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In a recent survey of 4,228 club professionals, 63 percent had “serious concerns” about the potential ban. The 90-day comment period ends on Feb. 28 and the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club are scheduled to take a final vote in early March.

Bishop said the PGA plans to take another survey of its members regarding the possible bifurcation of the rules; although, given the association’s earlier stance on the proposed ban, it seems likely the membership would also support two sets of rules.

“We have got 27,000 PGA members that are fighting a battle every day at all their facilities to try to grow the game,” Bishop said. “Quite candidly, we are at a point in the game where we can't afford to lose one player, one round of golf at our facilities, and anything that happens from a legislation standpoint to do that in our opinion is not good for the game.”

As for how the Tour might proceed, Finchem was predictably aloof on Wednesday when he spoke with the media at Torrey Pines, but four-time Policy Board member Davis Love III couldn’t imagine a scenario that would prompt the Tour to deviate from the mandates set by the USGA and R&A.

“I don’t think our membership wants to get into the rule-making business. I don’t think (Finchem) wants to get into the rule-making business,” he said.

The bigger question for Finchem & Co. is probably the timing of the proposed ban. If approved, the ban on anchoring would begin in 2016, which would leave three years of scrutiny for Tour players using long and belly putters. That, as Finchem explained on Wednesday, is a distraction the circuit would rather avoid.

“I worry about it being the focus of conversation for a long period of time. You are going to talk about it. Is it against the rules? This guy is still doing it, when is he going to switch? Every time you turn on the TV (NBC Sports analyst) Johnny Miller is going to say, ‘He’s putting with a long putter; he’s going to have to change,’” Love said. “They are going to say they have been breaking the rules. If you are going to do it, do it.”

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


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Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.