Ex-anchorers trying to keep their heads above water

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2015, 8:19 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – The army of anchorers has all but disbanded.

The belly and broom have essentially gone belly up with the Jan. 1 ban still eight months away.

All that’s left are three major winners relearning how to play with a putter that isn’t pressed against their sternum or stomach.

To the casual fan, this wouldn’t seem like a huge deal – they’re PGA Tour players! – but the early returns have suggested otherwise:

• Adam Scott snapped a streak of 45 consecutive made cuts after a cover-your-eyes week in Tampa.

• Keegan Bradley ranked 29th last year in putting. So far this season, he’s 148th.

• Webb Simpson has never ranked worse than 58th on the greens (including 34th a year ago). Today, he’s 92nd.


Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, videos and photos


This (way-too-early) data from the marquee names would imply that anchoring helps, that the transition is more significant than originally thought, and that’s bad news with the start of major season now only 21 days away.

Indeed, the new normal is an uncomfortable one for the former anchorers, which is why rounds such as Thursday’s at Bay Hill can represent a significant step. All three players shot 69 or better in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Every round that we play is so big for us,” Bradley said, “because it’s another round under our belt that we haven’t had. This is new for all of us.”

For his many gifts, Scott has never been a particularly strong putter, with or without the broomstick. Only three times since 2004 has he been ranked inside the top 100 in putting.

When he switched to the broom-handled putter in spring 2011, the most notable difference was not that he consistently poured in more birdie putts, but that his poor putting days weren’t as bad. That led to him racking up six top-five finishes in majors since 2011, the most of any player over that span.

After messing around with the short putter during a long offseason, Scott started auspiciously over the first two rounds at Doral. He faded over the weekend (T-4) and had a rough two days in Tampa, leading to his first early exit in 45 events. Entering this week, he had missed 17 times inside 10 feet over his last four rounds and lost a whopping 7.9 strokes to the field. Worse, he admitted that he wasn’t “married” to the short stick, meaning he was still flirting with the idea of switching back. Indecisiveness typically doesn’t play well at Augusta.

Scott appears to have settled on a unique approach in which he uses a conventional grip for longer putts on slower greens, and the claw grip for putts from inside, say, 30 feet.

The longest birdie putt he made Thursday was an 8-foot, 11-inch putt on No. 9, his final hole of the day. Three of his four birdies during an opening 68 were from inside 3 feet. That’s not uncommon this week on a course that has slower, bumpier and spottier greens than usual.

“[The greens] are not exactly what I was hoping for to test my stroke at the moment,” Scott conceded.

Bradley, meanwhile, switched to the shorter putter at the World Challenge event in December, and after a high finish there he declared it was one of the “biggest tournaments of my career.” Hyperbolic, perhaps, but it only underscores how fragile a player’s confidence can be on the greens.

Four months later, Bradley described his putting performance as “kind of boring, middle of the road,” which is also one way to describe his results – only one top-15 in six 2015 starts.

Bradley has transitioned from a 46 1/4-inch putter to one that is about 39 inches – still longer than a conventional short putter – but has a long, thick grip that is similar to his belly model. His new putter is more upright, which puts his eyes more directly over the ball.

“It’s very awkward, very different,” he said of the switch. “I’ve given up thousands of rounds, thousands of hours to these guys out here, so I’m gaining some of those back as we speak.”

Simpson is starting from square one, too. Earlier this year he snapped his belly putter – the same club that helped him win the 2012 U.S. Open – over his knee so he wouldn’t be tempted to use it again.

At times this season he probably wished he had some superglue, because in 15 tournament rounds he is 92nd on Tour in putting. He lost nearly 1.5 strokes on the greens on Thursday, too, even during an opening 69.

“I’m having some good days, some bad days, similar to the belly putter,” he shrugged.

For the past year and a half, the anchoring brigade said it would wait as long as possible before changing – you know, to make hay while they could. Yet today, it’s rare to see a long putter on the PGA Tour, and the ban doesn’t take effect until the first day of 2016.

“Waiting until the last minute, it was a situation where it was almost like I was forced into doing something, like it was my last resort,” Simpson said.

In a few years we’ll know how much anchoring truly mattered. For now, there’s only one option: Adapt.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.