Dealing with hypotheticals on the anchor ban

By Jason SobelFebruary 25, 2013, 2:10 pm

For those who haven't paid much attention to the anchored putter debate recently, let's put it into terms that everyone can understand.

In this analogy, there is a man – let's call him 'Friend A' – who is on the verge of making a major life decision, so he consults with a buddy – he’ll be 'Friend B' – as to what he should do.

Friend A: 'I'm thinking of getting a divorce from my wife. Even though we've been together for a long time, it never felt right. I've reached a boiling point lately. But I'd really like to get your opinion.'

During a 90-day waiting period, Friend B studies Friend A's marriage and educates himself about the relationship. He analyzes data. Holds meetings at night. Listens to what other people think. Finally, he offers an opinion.

Friend B: 'Well, after getting together with some mutual friends, I disagree with your stance. I'm not saying I wouldn't support you if you made this decision – not yet, at least – but I do see fault in your logic. You asked for a recommendation and I think you should stay with your wife.'

So now what?

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There are two potential options.

The first involves Friend A ignoring Friend B's advice. He goes ahead with the divorce anyway, running the risk of having his friend side with his wife, essentially losing a buddy in the process of dissolving his marriage. It leads to a strained situation at best and a complete mess at worst. Sure, when Friend A hosts a party, he can do so under his own terms, but if Friend B continually invites them to events as a couple, it turns into a power struggle that Friend A loses in embarrassing fashion.

The second scenario finds Friend B taking Friend A's advice. At the recommendation of his buddy – and others who know him very well – he decides against getting divorced. On the plus side, he keeps some continuity and consistency in his life. On the negative, though, that boiling point never dissipates, as he’s left secretly wondering whether he should have trusted his gut.

These are the two scenarios facing the U.S. Golf Association – not to mention its partner-in-crime, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. After the game’s governing bodies jointly proposed on Nov. 28 that anchored putting become banned starting in 2016, USGA executive director Mike Davis asked PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem for his organization’s own recommendation.

On Sunday, Finchem offered that recommendation, based on meetings with his membership and recent conference calls with the PGA Tour Policy Board and Players Advisory Council.

“The essential thread that went through the thinking of the players and our board of directors and others that looked at this,” he said, “was that in the absence of data or any basis to conclude that there is a competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring, and given the amount of time that anchoring has been in the game, that there was no overriding reason to go down that road.”

In layman’s terms, Davis is considering a divorce from anchored putting, but Finchem is trying to convince those two crazy kids to stick it out and renew their vows.

Those who reside in corner offices in Ponte Vedra Beach are fond of saying, “We don’t deal in hypotheticals.” That’s a fine rallying cry, but this situation is wrought with nothing but them.

If … the PGA Tour continues its push to keep anchored putting legal, it sets up a massive game of chicken on a one-lane highway, with the first to flinch winding up in a roadside ditch.

If … the USGA and R&A have their way and the PGA Tour goes in another direction, welcome to the Bifurcation Era. Ironically enough, the governing bodies have all condemned having two sets of rules for professionals and amateurs, yet that’s exactly what these decisions will spawn.

If … all of these organizations steadfastly stand by their current contentions, there could someday be a time when players such as Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley could anchor their putters every week in PGA Tour events, then be forced to change strategy for the major championships. That would be the case for the U.S. Open and Open Championship. Chances are, the PGA of America would support PGA Tour local rules for the PGA Championship. Augusta National? They do whatever they want, though popular sentiment is that officials would fall in line with the USGA and R&A.

We’re still a long way from any of those hypotheticals coming to fruition, but even those who decidedly don’t like to deal in them are taking note of the potential repercussions.

While it remains to be seen how the PGA Tour’s recommendation could impact the anchored putting proposal, it’s easy to understand how this could severely change the game. Not just in a technical aspect, but it could alter relationships and strategies and the notion of professionals playing by different rules than amateurs.

Much like in the previous analogy, this situation seems likely to lead to a strained situation at best and a complete mess at worst. There are really only two potential scenarios – and neither will allow all parties to live in total harmony.

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Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.

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Thomas was asked about that.

“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.