USGA, R&A announce ban on anchored stroke

By Ryan LavnerMay 21, 2013, 11:50 am

After an extensive and sometimes contentious comment period, the USGA and R&A formally announced a ban Tuesday on the anchored stroke.

Rule 14-1b will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, when the next edition of the Rules of Golf is published. After the rule was initially proposed on Nov. 28, 2012, the governing bodies opened a 90-day comment window that allowed industry leaders to address any lingering concerns.

When first announcing the proposed rule, the governing bodies cited a “tremendous spike in usage” and “growing advocacy” among pros and instructors. Though long putters have been around for decades, USGA executive director Mike Davis said in November that the percentage of players who have used the putters has increased from about 2-4 percent in the 1980s and ’90s to close to 20 percent.

However, according to USGA president Glen D. Nager, recent surveys now indicate that anchoring is used by only 2-4 percent of golfers in the U.S. and Europe.

This ban will affect the estimated 18 percent of PGA Tour players who anchor their putters, including four of the last six major winners (Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott).

What's banned? USGA, R&A infographic

Timeline: Long and anchored putter

Anchored-stroke debate: Articles, videos and photos

It’s important to note that the new rule still allows those players to use their long or belly putters, so long as the butt of the handle is not affixed to a part of the body (stomach, sternum, chin, etc.).

“The new rule upholds the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminates the possible advantage that anchoring provides, ensuring that players of all skill levels face the same challenge inherent in the game of golf,” Nager said.

During Tuesday’s announcement, the governing bodies jointly released a 40-page document that explained their decision to adopt the rule.

Their main findings:

• The new rule should not negatively affect participation

• It is not too late or unfair to require players to comply with the rule

• The new rule will remove potential concerns about any advantage that anchoring provides

Said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson: “We recognize this has been a divisive issue but after thorough consideration, we remain convinced that this is the right decision for golf.”

Now, the PGA Tour must decide if it agrees.

In February, commissioner Tim Finchem announced the Tour’s opposition to the then-proposed rule, saying that the ban was not in “the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour.” (The European Tour, LPGA, Ladies European Tour and Sunshine Tour each publicly supported the ban, furthering the notion that the issue was more controversial in the States than it was overseas.)

At the time, Finchem stopped short of suggesting that the Tour would break from the Rules of Golf and create its own set of rules. Now that the anchoring ban has been passed, it was not immediately clear which direction the Tour would take.

In a statement after the announcement, the PGA Tour said the Player Advisory Council and Policy Board would meet in the coming month to discuss their next step.

“We will announce our position regarding the application of Rule 14-1b to our competitions upon conclusion of our process and we will have no further comment until that time,” the Tour said.

PGA of America president Ted Bishop has been perhaps the most vocal dissenter. In March, he warned that the ban could result in separate rules for amateurs and professionals. “Bifurcation seems destined if Rule 14-1b is implemented,” he said.

In their 40-page report, the USGA and R&A stressed the need for one set of rules for the “future health of the game.”

“If there was some type of schism, we don’t think that’d be good for golf,” Davis said Tuesday. “We are doing what we think is right for the long-term benefit of the game for all golfers.”

Some players have hinted at potential legal action if the ban was passed. Tim Clark, for example, has used a long putter since college because of a congenital problem with his arms in which he can’t supinate his wrists.

“In the event that any litigation is brought, we’ll respond to whatever the claims are,” Nager said. “But I can assure you of this, we have looked at this from the legal perspective and feel confident of our position.”

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.