R&A to determine legality of anchored putters

By July 23, 2012, 12:30 pm

One day after Ernie Els won the Open Championship with an anchored putter, the Royal and Ancient said a decision could come soon on future use of the club.

'This decision has not been taken,” R&A chief Peter Dawson said Monday, “but I think we are going to say something in a few months rather than years.”

Dawson reaffirmed that the R&A and U.S. Golf Association are looking at the legality of an anchored stroke rather than the length of belly and long putters. For any ban to be implemented, the concept of 'anchoring' would need to be clearly defined, which Dawson believes is quite clear.

'Anchoring is what we're looking at, method of stroke, and it's all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether that fixed pivot point is in your belly or under your chin or on your chest,' he said. 'I don't distinguish.'

With this year being the last in the four-year joint rules cycle, any change to the legality of longer putters or an anchored stroke would not take effect before January 1, 2016. 

Els is the third major champion in the last four played to use such a belly putter. 

Had Adam Scott won the claret jug, he would have been the first to use the long putter to win a major. His stoke, however, was not perfect down the stretch, as evidenced by a 3-foot miss at No. 16.

The R&A said, however, it is the pervasiveness of the putters in the game that dictates the review of their legality, not a trend among major winners. Dawson said data shows 14-15 percent of the field uses a longer putter. At the Open Championship, that number was 27.5 percent.

If a ban is instituted, Dawson said the wins of Els, PGA champion Keegan Bradley and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson would not be invalidated – officially or unofficially.

'It doesn't detract in any way from the winner as long as he obeys the rules of play at the time,' Dawson said. 'Bobby Jones used concave-faced clubs for some of his major championships and they were outlawed later.'

Last October at the Frys.com Open, Els said he would continue to 'cheat like the rest of them,' using the belly putter despite his personal objections to its legality.

While an announcement is anticipated in the next few months, USGA executive director Mike Davis remains focused on a decision that is best for the entire sport.

'Together with (t)he R&A, we remain deliberate in our review,' Davis said in an email last week, 'and are keen on getting any decision right for the long-term, for the game and for all golfers, rather than rush to judgment.'

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.