Anchoring issue to headline Tour players' meeting

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2013, 10:28 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Geoff Ogilvy described the typical 90-minute PGA Tour players’ meeting as “boring,” a “cure for insomnia” and, at its best, a “pretty good Ambien substitute.”

Rest assured, this week’s mandatory meeting in San Diego has the potential to be the liveliest yet.

On the agenda Tuesday at Torrey Pines is the governing bodies’ proposed rule to outlaw the anchored stroke. U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis is expected to explain to players the organization’s position on anchoring.

When announcing the proposed rule in late November, Davis and R&A chief executive Peter Dawson cited a “tremendous spike” in usage and a “growing advocacy” among teaching pros and tour players. More important, though, they stressed that the ban was not simply a reaction to the fact that three of the past five major champions (Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els) have used a belly putter.

“This is fundamentally about what we think is the right thing for the game,” Davis said at the time.

More news on anchoring the putter

Rule 14-1b will be finalized in the spring, following a 90-day comment period that would allow industry insiders to address any lingering concerns. That window expires at the end of the West Coast swing in late February. If the proposed rule is passed, as expected, the ban would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, when the next edition of the Rules of Golf is published.

The Tour, however, doesn’t have to wait that long.

Generally, the Tour has adopted the same set of rules as the sport’s governing bodies, but commissioner Tim Finchem and Co. could decide to institute the ban sooner – perhaps as early as this October, before the start of the 2013-14 wraparound season – to spare the players using anchored putters from scrutiny or potential distractions. The Policy Board is expected to vote on the issue later this season.

“I really don’t think the Tour will ever do that,” Stewart Cink said. “It wouldn’t look good for us to say, ‘You made a rule, and we’re not going to go by it.’

“It’s not unprecedented, and policy doesn’t stop us from making our own rule, but I really don’t think we will.”

Cink, it should be noted, won three titles with a conventional putter and the other three with a belly putter. “I don’t have a horse in this race,” he says.

“But when I was putting with a long putter” – for six-plus years, from the latter half of 2002 through early 2009 – “one of the reasons I switched back was that I had a hint in the back of my mind that the long putter had become a slight crutch, and I felt like I was depending on it because it was just a little bit easier to use,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s easier to use; you still have to putt great to be effective with it. But it’s one of the reasons I switched back.”

In his fifth event after returning to the conventional putter, Cink held off Tom Watson to win the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, his first major championship and last title won.

“I had just developed a little hint of if I’m going to win a tournament with a long putter, I will have wished I was using the short putter,” Cink said.

At the World Challenge in December, Bradley, one of the best young players in the game, was heckled by a spectator because he was wielding a belly putter. Bradley shrugged off the incident, saying he hoped to use the detractors as motivation, but later told reporters there, “I feel like the USGA has really put an  ‘X’ on our back.”

That has led some to wonder if the Tour should institute its own rule and enact the ban beginning in October.

“I think they should really follow the USGA’s lead,” said Geoff Ogilvy, a member of the 16-member Player Advisory Council. “I don’t think the Tour can do any wrong if you follow what the USGA does. I think if they start going away from the USGA is when you’re going to get in a tough spot.”

Ogilvy said the last time a players’ meeting had this much anticipation was in 2008, when drug testing was introduced to the sport.

“But when they communicated with the players and said why they’re doing this right now, it was the right thing to do,” he said. “Without that communication, we were revved up about it.”

This meeting, he said, could take on a similarly educational tone.

“Perhaps (Davis’) spiel will neutralize the feelings that are in the room,” Ogilvy said. “To hear it from the USGA’s mouth and where they are coming from and why they propose the rule the way it is, perhaps that will change everyone’s perspective.”

And if not, one thing remains certain: No players will doze off this year.

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Thomas donating to hurricane relief at East Lake

By Jason CrookSeptember 19, 2018, 9:20 pm

Much like in years past, Justin Thomas is using his golf game to help with relief of a natural disaster.

The world No. 4 announced on Twitter Wednesday that he’d be donating $1,000 per birdie and $5,000 per eagle at the Tour Championship to a charity benefiting the victims of Hurricane Florence, which ravaged the Carolinas last week.

At a fan's suggestion, Thomas, who has averaged 4.35 birdies per round this season, also pledged to donate $10,000 for a hole-in-one.

Hurricane Florence made landfall on Friday just south of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and has left much of the area flooded and without power. At least 37 people have died in storm-related incidents.

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Rose realizes his No. 1 ranking is precarious

By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2018, 8:18 pm

ATLANTA – Asked how he would like to be identified when he was finished playing golf, Justin Rose didn’t hesitate – “major champion, Olympic gold medalist, world No. 1.”

He’s had only a week to enjoy the last accomplishment, but the Englishman is aware of what it means to his career to have finally moved into the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“It's a moment in your career that you always remember and cherish,” said Rose, who overtook Dustin Johnson with his runner-up finish two weeks ago at the BMW Championship.

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Rose said he took some time last weekend with family and friends to relish the accomplishment and will play his first event this week at the Tour Championship as the world’s best, but he also understands how tenuous his position atop the ranking is at the moment.

“I accept it's really tight up top. It could easily switch this week,” he said. “I just feel that if I go to [No.] 2 or 3 this week, if Dustin and Brooks [Koepka] both play well, I have an opportunity the week after and British Masters, and going to China and Turkey, there's going to be opportunities to get back there.”

Johnson, Koepka and Justin Thomas could unseat Rose atop the ranking this week depending on their finishes at the Tour Championship.

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Likely ROY Wise not looking past 'special' East Lake

By Rex HoggardSeptember 19, 2018, 8:05 pm

ATLANTA – Much like the PGA Tour Player of Year Award, voting for the Rookie of the Year Award is very much a rubber stamp this season.

Brooks Koepka is a lock to win the Jack Nicklaus Trophy after winning two majors - the U.S. Open and PGA Championship - despite missing a portion of the season with an injury. Similarly, Aaron Wise, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson, is the only rookie this year to advance to the Tour Championship, which is normally the threshold players use for voting for Rookie of the Year.

“I knew with the rookie class that we had it was going to be tough, and the players still have to vote but it’s definitely something that was important to me,” he said on Wednesday at East Lake. “My focus is just finishing strong this week and giving them a reason to vote for me.”

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For Wise, who had four top-10 finishes this season and begins the week 21st on the FedExCup point list, the chance to win the award is gratifying, but being among the best 30 players on Tour, and securing his spot in all four major championships next season, is an accomplishment worth savoring.

“To win Rookie of the Year you have to have a solid season, but to make it to East Lake, so many guys don’t get this far. You really have to have a special season and this is really special,” Wise said.

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Stanford returns home to share Evian celebration

By Randall MellSeptember 19, 2018, 5:33 pm

Angela Stanford’s eyes welled with tears when her flight touched down at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in her return from winning the Evian Championship.

When she lands from the south, as she did Monday, she always looks for the towering grain elevators in her Saginaw hometown. She also always looks for downtown Fort Worth’s skyline.

She got teary with the replica of the Evian Championship trophy in her carry-on in the luggage bin above her seat, knowing she wasn’t bringing it home just for her.

But for her mother, Nan, who’s battling a second bout with breast cancer.

For her father, Steve, who got her started in the game.

For other family and friends.

For Shady Oaks, the club Ben Hogan made famous, where she is a member.

And for TCU, her alma mater.

She realized how empty she felt in so many returns from major championships.

She’s 40 now.

She won in her 76th try in a major.

For so long, Stanford believed she had what it took to win a major, but that only made the string of disappointments harder.

“So I remembered what it felt like coming home from so many disappointments, but not this time,” Stanford said. “This time I got to bring something home for everyone to see.”

When Stanford got off the plane, her parents were among a group of family and friends waiting to greet her. So was her TCU coach, Angie Larkin, who brought along the Horned Frogs mascot, Superfrog.

Tour pros Kristy McPherson, Dori Carter, Kendall Dye and Emory University coach and former tour pro Katie Futcher were all in Fort Worth helping Stanford celebrate.

“It was pretty cool,” Stanford said. “Of course, I asked them all if they wanted to see the trophy.”

She pulled it out of her carry-on and never put it back.

“It’s a heavy trophy, but I told them I’m carrying this everywhere,” Stanford said.

There was a celebration dinner with family and friends Monday night, and another celebration with friends on Tuesday.

“I think it’s just the start of many celebrations with more friends to see,” Stanford said.

Stanford went to work with a new swing coach about a year ago, Todd Kolb, from Sioux Falls, S.D. In her flight home, she thought about how grateful she was for all the help poured into her game, not just the good work Kolb is doing, but the foundation important figures in her life helped to lay. She thought about the lessons and wisdom Amy Fox, Mike Wright and Joe Hallett passed along.

“I’m still using things I learned from my first instructor,” Stanford said. “Amy Fox is a huge reason I’m playing on tour. Mike Wright is a huge reason why I’ve won on tour. Joe Hallett helped me navigate through a tough time in my career.

“They were all important to my winning Sunday. They all gave me building blocks, and they’ve all helped lay the foundation to what I’m learning now from Todd.”

Stanford said being able to share her gratefulness made her return home special.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” she said. “It’s been everything you could imagine it would be.”