Players not surprised PGA Tour accepted anchor ban

By Jason SobelJuly 2, 2013, 9:14 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – If Monday was D-Day for those PGA Tour players who anchor their putters, then Tuesday was The Morning After. Or perhaps more appropriately, The Mourning After.

One day after the PGA Tour’s policy board decided to adopt the USGA’s Rule 14-1b and eliminate all anchored strokes beginning in 2016, any contact with these players was prefaced in much the same way someone would approach a person who’d just had a death in the family.

“I’m so sorry about what happened …”

“… I hope you’re doing alright …”

“… let me know if there’s anything you need…”

“… can I make a donation in your name?”

OK, so that last one may have been in jest, but for the small minority of anchormen competing in this week’s Greenbrier Classic, the aftereffects of this decision were no laughing matter.

Anchored-stroke debate: Articles, videos and photos

Timeline: A history of the long putter

Official statement from the PGA Tour on anchor ban

Ask 100 different players about the impending anchoring ban and you’re likely to receive 100 different takes on the issue. They may be as subtle as the breaks in a PGA Tour green, but they’ll be different.

All except the surprise factor. Scour the driving range and practice green Tuesday and you couldn’t find a player who wasn’t expecting this announcement.

“No surprise, really,” said Brian Harman, who anchored in college, then earned his PGA Tour card with a standard-length putter before switching back over a year ago. “I don’t think that there was any way that we were going to play a different set of rules for major golf tournaments. So I think our hands were kind of tied.”

Just five months ago, after the USGA proposed the ban and sought input during a lengthy comment period, the PGA Tour publicly opposed any change to the rules. Now, though, commissioner Tim Finchem has completed a full U-turn, accepting the policy rather than trying to fight it.

You’d think such a maneuver might cause feelings of betrayal amongst those who thought they had support in PGA Tour headquarters, but an informal poll of anchorers showed that reversal was viewed less as deception than sensible business practice.

“He took a stance early on, but we had our doubts,” said Carl Pettersson, who has been anchoring for the past 16 years. “We knew in the back of our minds he wasn’t going to go against the USGA.

“I think the USGA asked for the various organization’s input and the Tour met and we gave them what we felt at the time,” David Hearn agreed. “They went through with deciding that there was a rule change and under our current regulations, we follow the USGA rules. So we were in a spot where we had to decide whether we were going to bifurcate or follow. I don’t think he flip-flopped. I think they asked for everyone’s opinion and we gave it. They decided to go ahead with the rule change and that’s what we’ve got.”

One reason many players believed the rule change was going to go into effect despite the initial opposition is that failing to cooperate with the USGA would in effect cause bifurcation – two different sets of rules for professionals and amateurs.

“Once the USGA made their decision, whether there was pressure to abide or do the same thing, I think as a Tour it’s best for everybody to have one set of rules,” said J.J. Henry, who has gone back and forth with the belly putter for a few years. “So once the USGA said that, it was best for us to follow suit, unless we wanted to open up a whole other can of worms.”

There is actually a case to be made, in fact, that the opposite should have been true.

Rather than make anchoring against the rules for amateurs and legal for professionals, some have contended that it be the other way around – one reason the PGA Tour pushed for a stay of execution for anchored strokes in the amateur game for an extra eight years.

“I wish that, if they were going to ban it, they would just ban it for us,” Harman concluded. “Don’t ban it for guys that play as 10-handicaps or just want to play well in their club championship. Any rule that makes one guy put down a set of clubs is a bad rule. I just don’t see who it benefits. I think they could have had it both ways, I really do. It would have been way more OK if they would have just banned it for us, for the pros. I think that’s what they should have done.

“There are guys who are going to quit over this. Say a guy has a back problem and doesn’t want to bend down. Or somebody just can’t putt and that enables them to get around the golf course and have fun with their friends. Putting is frustrating. It’s the most frustrating thing in golf. And they just made it harder.”

In the end, on the day after D-Day, The Morning After, it may have been Pettersson who best summed up the feelings of the anchorers.

“I don’t think it’s fair, but sometimes life isn’t fair,” he said. “I’ll just have to get on and deal with it.”

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."