Putting Changes Abound at Mercedes

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 11, 2003, 5:00 pm
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Frustrated with his putting for the last year, Sergio Garcia made a change Saturday.
 
Garcia used the belly putter in the third round of the Mercedes Championships, and had some positive results.
 
Garcia needed 30 putts in shooting a 7-under-par 66, his lowest round of the week. He took 33 putts in the first round and 32 in the second.
 
It was like Heaven and Hell, Garcia said of the difference between his putting Saturday and before. Today I can leave the course saying that I didnt hit any bad putts, and I havent been able to say that for over a year.
 
Garcia had to take his regular putter out of play in the second round (in accordance to PGA Tour rules) when the shaft bent after he tossed it to his bag. He tried using an 8-iron and 3-wood for putting before settling on a wedge.
 
Garcia said he planned on using the belly putter at some point this week regardless of Fridays incident. He brought the putter, which belongs to his father, with him to the tournament. It is a TaylorMade and measures at 42 and a quarter inches.
 
I was actually nervous on the first couple of holes, said Garcia, who stands at 9-under par, 16 shots off the lead. I didnt know how it was going to go. Im actually glad I tried it.
 
This was the first time the 23-year-old Spaniard has played a competitive round with anything other than a conventional putter. He said he got a little help from Vijay Singh, who also uses the belly putter, on the practice green Friday.
 
Garcia said he plans to use the new putter in Sundays final round, but the future is in doubt.
 
If it works like it did today, Ill stick with it. In three months I may go back, he said. Its a confidence thing, it comes and goes.
 
A Long-Term Commitment
 
Kevin Sutherland put a new putter in his bag this week as well. For just the third time in his career hes using a long putter.
 
'I've been using it for six years, more as a practice aid,' said Sutherland, who added he was so disappointed in his putting at the end of last season he decided to forego the conventional putter.
 
Like most players, Sutherland has tried a variety of ways to improve his putting. He went to the claw-grip the week before he won last years Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
He used a long putter in the final round at Milwaukee about five years ago and in two rounds at the Bob Hope.
 
This time, though, he says hes going to stay with it: Im using it. This is my putter.
 
Rocco Mediate went the other way. He traded long for short.
 
Mediate, who was the first player in PGA Tour history to win a tournament with a long putter when he captured the 1991 Doral Ryder Open, is using a standard Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter this week.
 
Hes gotten better round-by-round. He had 34 putts in Round 1, 31 in Round 2 and 28 on Saturday.
 
Its coming around. Im feeling more and more comfortable with it, said Mediate, who has shot rounds of 72-69-65 for a 13-under-par total.
 
Like Sutherland, he said he's committed to the new selection.
 
I was a bit out of sorts because I hadnt used it in 11 years, Mediate said. I came naked here. I didnt bring it (the long putter).
 
Hawaii Over South Africa
 
Ernie Els loves playing the Plantation Course, and it shows in his domination of this weeks Mercedes Championships.
 
But making the trip to Maui meant he and countryman Retief Goosen had to skip their national Open. The South African Open is also being contested this week.
 
It is sad we couldnt play it this year. Unfortunately, last year the Open was after this event, Goosen said.
 
Goosen and Els are spending two weeks in Hawaii as both are competing in next weeks Sony Open in Honolulu.
 
Last year I did the trip back (to South Africa), 36 hours or so to get back from here. Youre a little bit tired when you get there, Goosen said. This year I decided to make my traveling a little bit easier, try and stay a bit longer at one time.
 
Related Links:
  • Full-field scores from the Mercedes Championships
  • Full coverage of the Mercedes Championships
  • Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

    Getty Images

    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

    LPGA:

    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

    Getty Images

    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm