Decision to ban anchoring is only beginning for Tour

By Rex HoggardMay 21, 2013, 6:41 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – This is not over. Not by a long shot. That wasn’t the fat lady’s dulcet tones echoing through golf early Tuesday, it was the kick-off – everything up to this point has been pre-game.

The USGA and R&A’s decision to move ahead with the ban on anchoring was almost inevitable. They didn’t dissect the issue for years only to do a U-turn at the first sign of uneven terrain. The question now is, what’s next?

“We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation,” read the official company line from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

When translated from PR speak, the PGA Tour’s response to Tuesday’s news was a solid, “Oh, yeah?”

The next few weeks and months will not just decide the ultimate fate of the anchored stroke, and a handful of Tour types who ply their trade with it, but could cut right to the relevance of golf’s rule makers.

Anchored-stroke debate: Articles, videos and photos

The Tour’s statement said player input will be collected before a decision is made whether the circuit will follow the new rule. The next Policy Board meeting will be in early July at The Greenbrier and the Player Advisory Council doesn’t currently have a meeting scheduled, although one Tour official admitted, “that might change.”

If the circuit decides to split with the rule makers and not adopt the change, many of the current legal and logistical concerns go away, although the esoteric impact to the game would be substantial.

“I’m not worried about putting with the short putter or the long putter. I’m just bothered that I didn’t get a vote and that we didn’t get any representation on this,” said Brian Harman, who has used a belly putter throughout much of his professional career. “I don’t think this is the end of it at all. The next thing is the golf ball and then it’s the drivers. We’ll be playing with gutta-percha (golf ball) pretty soon.”

Harman was hardly alone in his assessment that it may be time for the professionals to take control of the rule-making process, but Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been reluctant, if not vague, in the past when asked about the possibility of the bifurcation of the Rules of Golf.

“I can see some situations where you might bifurcate the rules, but that wouldn’t be the first choice,” Finchem said in February.

Unlike PGA of America president Ted Bishop, who built his consensus from within, Finchem will have difficulty crafting a similarly populace response and would likely avoid such a move anyway. There will be no exit polling of the rank-and-file on whether to ban or not to ban because, honestly, everyone has a belly in this fight.

“That’s too individual for the players,” said Steve Flesch, who won three of his four Tour titles using a long putter but supports the ban. “The players shouldn’t make the rules out here.”

Which brings the decision back to Finchem and the Policy Board, which includes four player directors. After further review, it seems likely the circuit will abide by the new rule and maintain the status quo with the USGA and R&A.

For weeks the word on Tour was that a group of seven to eight players had already formed a coalition to challenge the rule legally if it was passed; early Tuesday Brendan Steele seemed to allude to the impending legal wrangling, saying, “I expect you to see something soon. Someone today will probably give you something on that.”

It remains unclear whether the players would sue the Tour or the rule makers or on what ground they would base there challenge, but as Vijay Singh’s episode from two weeks ago proved, we live in a litigious society (as an aside, it appears lawyers will be this year’s leading money winners on Tour). It was a reality that also didn’t sit well with some players at Colonial.

“If we can sue for that then why can’t we just argue every rule then?” Greg Owen said. “We are governed by the USGA and R&A for years and all of a sudden we are going to go against them. I feel for them (players who use long putters), but at the end of the day it shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place.”

If the Tour adheres to the rule it will also have to decide when to start enforcing it. Jan. 1, 2016, the date when the USGA and R&A plan to enact the ban, is awkward at best for the Tour.

The circuit will already be some two months into the 2015-16 season, which means the Tour would have to put the rule on the books early (Fall of 2015) or late (Fall of 2016).

The impending changes also promise to be a bona fide distraction over the next 2 ½ years, and Finchem is on record loathing distractions. Thirty months of continuous debate just won’t do.

“If (the Tour) is going to ban it why do we have to wait 2 ½ years,” Steve Flesch asked. “This issue isn’t going to go away. You don’t want guys getting heckled. This is inevitable, but 2016 is so far away. Why wait?”

Anchoring is now the Tour’s, and to a lesser extent the PGA of America’s problem, and those expecting a swift and seamless resolution should get used to disappointment.

No, Tuesday’s news wasn’t the end for anchoring, but it was the beginning of a lot of angst in Ponte Vedra Beach.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry