Bradley, Clark become faces of Tour's ban opposition

By Doug FergusonFebruary 25, 2013, 11:35 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Bruce Lietzke would have noticed a banana inside the cover of his long putter.

One of the famous stories about Lietzke, a 13-time winner on the PGA Tour, is that he never touched a club when he wasn't on Tour. His caddie didn't believe him, so at the end of the 1984 season, he put a banana inside the head cover of Lietzke's driver before zipping up the travel bag. Some 15 weeks later at the Bob Hope Classic, the caddie excitedly unzipped the travel bag.

The stench should have been the first clue.

''Sure enough, he pulled off that head cover and the banana ... it was not yellow,'' Lietzke said Monday. ''It was black, nasty, fungus. He said he'd never doubt me again.''

Lietzke confessed to breaking his own rules when it came to the broom-handled putter that he picked up at the Phoenix Open in 1991 and used the rest of his career. Even in his down time, he would tinker with the length of the putter and practice with it. And he wonders what the conversation would have been like today if that 1991 PGA Championship had turned out differently.

Lietzke was the runner-up at Crooked Stick behind a big-hitting rookie named John Daly. Imagine if Lietzke had won that major.

Would the USGA have banned the putter he anchored against his chest?

''I think so,'' Lietzke said. ''Judging by their reaction to major successes, I guess they were just waiting for this to happen. The USGA should have made a statement then. If I had won the PGA Championship, they might have tried to outlaw it. And if you look back on it, most people would have gone along with it.''

That was one of the arguments PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem put forth Sunday when he said the Tour was against the proposed rule that would ban the anchored stroke primarily used for long putters and belly putters.

Without any empirical evidence that an anchored stroke is easier, why ban it?

And after all these years, why now?

The faces in this discussion – and that's all it is right now – are Keegan Bradley and Tim Clark, for vastly different reasons.

It was Bradley's win at the PGA Championship that prompted serious talk about the future of anchored strokes. Bradley now is lumped in with three of the last five major champions using a belly putter, but he was the catalyst.

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady said the conversations between golf's administrators and the governing bodies about the future of the long putters began last year at The Masters.

That was before Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open and Ernie Els won the British Open, which ramped up the attention.

As for Clark?

It was his dignified speech at Torrey Pines that led even the staunch opponents of long putters to look at them differently. More than one person in the room that night has described his presentation as a game-changer.

That much was reflected in the overwhelming support from the Player Advisory Council and player-directors on the tour's policy board that the PGA Tour should oppose the USGA on this rule.

The tricky part is figuring out where this will lead.

The PGA Tour sent the USGA a letter last week spelling out its opposition to Rule 14-1(b), and the PGA of America and its 27,000 club pros are also against the ban.

One reason Finchem decided to speak about the letter – a small distraction during the final of the Match Play Championship – was his concern that the discussion was being portrayed as a showdown. Right now, it's a matter of opinion.

If it becomes a showdown, high noon is not until the USGA and R&A decide whether to go ahead with the rule. And that decision won't come until the spring.

It's a polarizing topic. If not, the governing bodies would not have offered a 90-day comment period that ends on Thursday. They simply would have announced a new rule and been done with it.

For now, the Tour has not said it will go against the USGA. It has only said it disagrees with the USGA.

Finchem chose not to show his hand when he brushed off questions about whether the Tour would ever allow an anchored stroke even if the governing bodies adopt a rule that bans it starting in 2016.

But he has made it clear on at least three occasions that while slightly different rules could work for the PGA Tour, this rule would not be one of them.

This is not where golf needs to go. The buzz word coming out of the USGA annual meeting earlier this month was not ''bifurcation'' but ''unification.''

Go anywhere in the world and golf effectively is played by the same set of rules. This is something that should never change.

The USGA and R&A know they don't have evidence to show that using an anchored stroke is easier. Frankly, they don't need any evidence. This is not about equipment, rather a new rule that attempts to define the golf stroke as the club swinging freely.

The mistake by the USGA was waiting until someone won a major before acting – or believing that winning a major should even make a difference.

The majors are the biggest events to win. They define careers. But if the belly putter was an issue when Simpson won the U.S. Open, why wasn't it an issue when he won the Deutsche Bank Championship? Did the putter work differently at Olympic?

Lietzke can think of several occasions when nerves made him miss with his long putter. And if the belly putter is the cure, don't just look at Ernie Els kissing that claret jug last summer at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Look at those two putts Els badly missed on the last few holes of the Match Play Championship to lose in the opening round.

If the USGA decides that a ban on anchored strokes is best for the game, the PGA Tour should go along with it.

And if the USGA was serious about that 90-day comment period, the hope is that it was serious about listening.

Why?

And why now?

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.