Newsmaker No. 5: Anchored putting ban

By Rex HoggardDecember 21, 2012, 3:44 pm

Mike Davis paused on his way to the first tee at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to consider a question that had been consuming him for months.

Davis, the executive director of the U.S. Golf Association who was moonlighting as a walking official at this year’s Open Championship, was all too familiar with the drumbeat both for and against the act of anchoring during the swing, more specifically the putting stroke, and considered his answer carefully.

“In the last year and a half things have changed,” Davis explained. “There are a lot more recreational players going to (the long putter). There are instructors that are telling golfers this is a better way to putt, there are a lot more juniors using it and this wasn’t happening before.”

Newsmaker No. 10: Stacy Lewis | No. 9 PGA Tour | No. 8 Jim Furyk | No. 7 British Open | No. 6 Bubba Watson

Little more than 24 hours later, Ernie Els hoisted the claret jug for the second time in his Hall of Fame career to become the third player in the last four major championships to win a Grand Slam title using a long putter. It is considered by some the metaphorical final nail in the anchoring coffin.

Davis has continued to stress that the USGA and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews’ decision to ban anchoring – an announcement that wouldn’t come for another four months – was based on the increased use at the grassroots level, but for those who adhere to the simple cause-and-effect nature of things, this move was all about Els & Co.

The USGA and R&A’s plan became more transparent at October’s McGladrey Classic when Davis outlined the proposal to the PGA Tour’s Policy Board. It was at the posh Sea Island (Ga.) Resort that the theoretical officially became a thorn in the Tour’s side.

At the time the Tour stressed to Davis that whatever move they made, and it was evident the powers that be planned to ban anchoring, they needed to act quickly.

“As I told Mike Davis we will have 10 guys who are vehemently against you and 10 guys who are vehemently for you and the rest are going to go play,” said Davis Love III at Sea Island, one of four player directors on the Policy Board. “The only thing I would be concerned about is if they make this rule but it’s not going to go into effect until 2016. It’s just going to drag on. I hope when they do it they just cut it off and do it. We’d rather not talk about it for three years and let it be a distraction.”

Love’s company line proved painfully prophetic at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge in November when a fan called Keegan Bradley, the first player to win a major championship anchoring a putter at last year’s PGA Championship, a “cheater.”

“I had a guy yesterday telling me to send my application in to Burger King for 2016,” Bradley said at Sherwood Country Club.

For the Tour, that kind of heckling is the “broken arrow” scenario, an ugly reality that awaits any player who is unlucky enough to win an event before the ban goes into effect in January 2016.

It also creates a scheduling issue for the circuit, which will transition to a split-calendar season next year which means officials would need to implement the rule early for the 2015-16 season, late for the 2016-17 calendar or perhaps not at all, although that doesn’t seem likely given the Tour’s aversion to rule bifurcation.

There was also an undercurrent among Tour players who use long putters that they could challenge the new rule legally, although that movement seemed to lose momentum in the days following the Nov. 28 announcement.

“Honestly, in my heart, for me to seek legal action . . . if I get to a point where I want to use a belly putter that bad, whether I want to get on the team with the guys that are or not, I don't know yet,” said Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open using a belly putter. “I don't know. Bottom line is I'm ready. I'm not worried.”

Neither did the USGA and R&A – which outlined the new rule in a media blitz that featured detailed explanations and examples of what type of strokes would be banned – seem overly concerned when they unveiled the proposed new rule which will not be finalized until next spring.

“Anchored strokes threaten to supplant traditional strokes, which with all their frailties are integral to the long-standing character of our sport,” said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson. “Our objective is to preserve the skill and challenge, which is such a key element of the game of golf.”

As Davis explained in July, this wasn’t about what happens at the game’s highest level so much as it was a course adjustment to stem a tide that was beginning to surge from the grassroots level. The rest of the debate, however, will surely focus on the top of the pyramid.

Newsmaker of the Year schedule

No. 10: Stacy Lewis

No. 9: PGA Tour

No. 8: Jim Furyk

No. 7: British Open

No. 6: Bubba Watson

No. 5: Anchored putting

No. 4: Dec. 23

No. 3: Dec. 26

No. 2: Dec. 28

No. 1: Dec. 31

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.