Grandfather clause on recreational anchoring likely doomed

By Rex HoggardFebruary 12, 2014, 8:44 pm

There is no way of telling if Ted Bishop spends much time at the Texas Hold ’Em table, but the president of the PGA of America knows a poker face when he sees one.

On Saturday at the U.S. Golf Association’s annual meeting, Bishop and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made their pitch for one final timeout in the countdown to the ban on anchoring that is poised to begin in January 2016.

More than any other voice in golf, Bishop’s was the loudest during last year’s surprisingly public debate over the adoption of the new anchoring rule.

Emboldened by a majority of his constituents (PGA club professionals) who opposed the ban, Bishop’s was one of the most persuasive voices in the rule-making room during the anchoring debate. So it seemed apropos that he, along with Finchem, would be the ones charged with convincing the USGA of the need for a grandfather period for recreational amateurs.

“At the end of the day we feel like we gave it our best shot, but we really couldn’t read into anything,” Bishop said.

Anchoring: Articles, videos and photos

The presentation lasted about 30 minutes on Saturday at the association’s annual meeting in Pinehurst, N.C., and focused on the central theme that any rule that detracts from the game at the grassroots level should be weighed carefully, if not avoided altogether.

The 2016 deadline for professionals and top amateurs to transition away from the anchored putting stroke may be enough of a head start for the game’s elite, but for Bishop and Finchem the use of anchored putters at the recreational level is less of a competitive question than it is an issue of accessibility.

“We were trying to humanize the request for the grandfather period. This was a continuation of what we asked back in July,” Bishop said as he packed for a trip to Russia to attend the Olympics. “My understanding is they will take a look at it and get back to us with a response.”

The USGA didn’t give Bishop and Finchem a timeline on when it might respond to the request, and for those who dissect subtext and read between lines it doesn’t seem the odds are in their favor.

“We want to be good partners with the PGA of America and the PGA Tour so we agreed to let them come back. We have to be diligent to be open-minded,” newly elected USGA president Tom O’Toole told your scribe in a recent interview.

“That said, there was a lot of time and thought that went into this decision. We realize it is a polarizing subject but we thought we considered all the possible options and issues that would confront us as a governing body and to be good governing bodies we had to go ahead and have that process. We want to be mindful of their request and we will listen intuitively.”

In the wake of last year’s decision to alter Rule 14-1b and ban anchoring the USGA, and Royal & Ancient which governs golf outside the United States and Mexico, seemed to indicate they would be more inclusive in future rule changes, and O’Toole’s comments seem to dovetail with that.

To a point.

But the telling line from O’Toole, “a lot of time and thought that went into this decision,” has been a frequent theme from the rule-makers throughout this process.

USGA and R&A officials conducted an exhaustive study of the possible rule change, and neither organization has indicated a need to add a grandfather period to its implementation.

Before boarding his plane for Sochi, Bishop seemed at ease with whatever decision the USGA handed down. After a year of debate it seems to be time to turn his energy to the litany of other issues facing the game.

“Personally I feel better,” Bishop said. “We tried to convey a compelling reason why this doesn’t do any harm to the game going forward, and Tim (Finchem) made some great statements.”

Bishop may not be a gambling man and the USGA may still come around to his and Finchem’s way of thinking regarding a grandfather period, but we wouldn’t bet on it.

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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