Simpson: Drivers are bigger issue than long putters

By Associated PressOctober 22, 2012, 10:18 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson isn't worried about a potential rule change that would ban long putters, and he's already practicing with a conventional putter.

That doesn't mean he agrees with a change, saying Monday that larger drivers have affected golf far more than putters anchored to the body.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club are discussing a possible change to the rules of golf that would keep players from anchoring the putter to their body, such as the belly or the chest for the broom-style putters.

Three of the last five major champions have anchored their putters – Simpson, British Open champion Ernie Els and PGA champion Keegan Bradley. Simpson and Bradley are at Port Royal for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, a 36-hole exhibition for the four major winners which starts Tuesday. Bradley is filling in for PGA champion Rory McIlroy.

''I'm friends with a lot of the R&A guys and the USGA guys. It's nothing personal, and I know they are trying to do it for the betterment of the game,'' Simpson said. ''But I don't think it's a good decision.''

Simpson said the PGA Tour's new putting statistic, known as ''strokes gained,'' shows no discernible advantage for players using long putters.

''If the USGA bans it, I think it's going to be a whole other ballgame if the PGA Tour bans it,'' Simpson said. ''It's going to be tough if they do ban it. It's going to be tough for a lot of people. Not players, I think it's going to be tough for the committees to really have their stance on it. If you look at the facts, last year there was no one in the top 20 of strokes gained category that anchored a putter.''

''So the argument of, 'It's an advantage,' you have to throw that out there,'' he said. ''There's a bunch of arguments going around, but I haven't heard a good one yet.''

USGA executive director Mike Davis has said he expects to announce a decision by the end of the year, though he has stressed the USGA and R&A have not decided anything yet.

Simpson switched to a belly putter in 2004 and said he felt the club made him more consistent, something he believed would ultimately give him a longer career.

''What I found was that I just became a more consistent putter,'' he said. ''I don't get hot quite as much, I don't get cold quite as much. With the short putter, I was a real streaky putter. The best players in the game, who have had long careers, have been steady players, which is why I switched.

''But I'm not worried about it. I'm ready, and if they do it for next year, I'll be ready.''

If there is a rules change, it likely would not be made until 2016. The Rules of Golf only make permanent changes every four years.

Simpson is more concerned with the rulings on other equipment.

''We all know that the R&A and USGA love to keep golf as original as possible,'' he said. ''But I think with the changes in the grooves, the golf balls, the drivers – you've got a little persimmon head 20 years ago the size of a fist and now a titanium head 460 cc. In 1980, the long drive guy was hitting it 285, and now if you hit it 285, you're one of the shortest guys on the Tour. To me, it's a bigger change to go from that size head to what we play now than the putter.''

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch.


Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.