Clark: If it were cheating, I wouldn't anchor putter

By Doug FergusonMarch 6, 2013, 11:34 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Tim Clark stated his case against the proposed ban on anchored strokes Wednesday night, saying he was frustrated by the lack of evidence from golf's governing bodies that using a long putter provides an advantage.

Clark has used a long putter he anchors to his chest since he was in college. He became a key figure in the debate for his elegant speech at a PGA Tour meeting that helped shape the opinion of several players. A month later, commissioner Tim Finchem said the PGA Tour was not in favor of the proposed rule.

''What we have here is a different method of putting,'' Clark said. ''It's not wrong. It's not against the values of the game. It's still a stroke. People who come out and say, 'It's not a stroke, you don't get nervous,' I can't believe that. I've been using it for 15 years. I get nervous. I miss putts under pressure. Putting essentially will always come down to 99 percent brain and mindset and confidence.

''If I felt I was cheating, I wouldn't be using it.''

Clark has remained quiet on the debate since players met Jan. 22 at Torrey Pines with U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis.

The USGA and Royal & Ancient Golf Club proposed the ban on Nov. 28, and then provided a 90-day comment period because it was such a polarizing issue. Of the major golf organizations around the world, the PGA Tour and PGA of America are the only groups who have spoken out against the ban, which would not take effect until 2016.

The governing bodies felt an anchored stroke took too much skill out of the game. Its goal was to define the golf stroke as the club moving freely through the entire swing. They conceded in November there was no empirical data, only a recent spike in more players using long putters.

Clark, whose five wins worldwide includes The Players Championship in 2010, flew to Torrey Pines for the meeting even though he wasn't in the tournament.

''We've taken it upon ourselves to find a better method and a better way to putt for us, and we've found that,'' Clark said. ''It shouldn't be illegal. It's just a different way to putt.

''How can anything be an advantage that everyone can use and everyone can try?''

He said his biggest complaint was that anchored putting has been around for some 40 years and the governing bodies didn't say anything about them until three of the last five major champions won with a belly putter. He recalled Davis saying in April 2011 - four months before Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship with a belly putter – that the USGA did not see anchored putting ''as something that is really detrimental to the game.''

Adam Scott, who began using a long putter two years ago and twice came close to winning majors, joined Clark for a meeting with a small group of reporters. He said the USGA and R&A have not considered the hours of practice that goes into using such a stroke.

''Now we're making rules for the betterment of the game based on zero evidence? Incredible,'' Scott said.

''What did they think when they allowed it?'' the Australian added. ''You're dealing with professional athletes who are competitive, who want to find better ways. ... What do they think when they've got super talented golfers putting in thousands of hours of practice with a long putter, short putter, sand wedge, whatever? It was just a matter of time. They're going to get good.''

Clark was an All-American at North Carolina State using a conventional putter. He said he changed halfway through college because of a congenital problem with his arms in which he can't supinate his wrists. He said it caused discomfort the way he had to hold the short putter close to his body, and with some trepidation, practiced for two months with a long putter before using it in competition.

The USGA and R&A are expected to decide in the spring whether to adopt the proposed rule against anchoring. While Finchem said he was opposed to the ban, he did not say whether the PGA Tour would go against the governing bodies.

Clark remains optimistic that the rule will not be adopted. Scott is hopeful the USGA and R&A are reviewing comments by Finchem and the PGA of America with an open mind.

''We've got two bodies representing professional golfers that stand for something in the game, and that should be looked at carefully,'' Scott said. ''I sincerely hope that the R&A and the USGA just don't go back in this review period with a closed mind and dust it off. They've already made their mind up, and I think that's foolish of them. I think I'd be taking it seriously.

''We try and do all the right things ... because we are the image for the game of golf,'' he said. ''We are the ones who are seen on the TV, and we're the ones at the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, as well. So I think this process shouldn't just be dismissed quickly. I think they should be getting together and putting their heads together. We've got a great game, and we should be trying to preserve that and not having this be something that brings golf down.''

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”