How it all began: A history of the long putter

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 1, 2013, 7:40 pm

While the debate over anchoring putters may appear relatively new, the history of the long putter dates back several decades. Here are some highlights and notable moments in the history of one of golf's most interesting pieces of equipment.

1924: Leo Diegel develops a putting stance which involves a bent-over, elbows-out position with the butt of the putter at his belly button. Competitors called the move 'Diegeling.'

1961: The first patent for a belly putter is submitted by Richard Parmley. It was approved in 1965.

1966: Phil Rodgers wins twice on the PGA Tour with a 39.5-inch belly putter, using a technique suggested to him by Paul Runyan. According to the Associated Press, 'Rodgers shoves the handle of his putter against his stomach and spreads his hands apart before taking his stroke.'

1968: The U.S. Golf Association bans croquet-style putting, utilized notably at the time by Sam Snead. USGA executive Joe Dey told Sports Illustrated, 'We made the decision with great reluctance ... but we felt it was the only way to eliminate the unconventional styles that have developed in putting. The game of golf was becoming bizarre. It was some other game, part croquet, part shuffleboard.'

1983: Battling the yips and bad knees, Champions Tour player Charlie Owens begins using a 51-inch putter that he anchored to his sternum. He went on to win twice in 1986 using the putter, which he nicknamed 'Slim Jim.'

1987: Johnny Miller wins the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am using a 46-inch long putter, which he gripped normally but braced against his left arm.

July 1989: Orville Moody wins the U.S. Senior Open using a long putter. Previously one of the worst putters on the Champions Tour, Moody became one of the best almost immediately after switching to the long putter, sparking rumors the club may be banned.

August 1989: After nearly two months of debate, the USGA and R&A announce that long putters will continue to be permitted under the Rules of Golf. At the time, USGA executive director David Fay explained, 'Putting is a very individualized art form. To inhibit a golfer's individual style would take some of the fun out of the game.'

1991: Rocco Mediate wins the Doral Open, becoming the first player to win a PGA Tour event using a putter anchored to his sternum.

2000: Paul Azinger earns his first PGA Tour win in over six years, using a belly putter to capture the Sony Open in Hawaii. 'I was instantly better,' said Azinger, who used the club to make the next U.S. Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams.

2003: Eight PGA Tour events are won by players using long putters, including four by Vijay Singh. 'This is like cheating,' said Steve Flesch after winning the Zurich Classic with an anchored putter. Later in the year, the USGA and R&A announce a maximum length of 48 inches on all clubs – except the putter.

2004: Vijay Singh wins nine times on the PGA Tour while switching between putters – six times with a standard putter, three times with a belly putter. Inspired by Singh, 24-year-old Trevor Immelman wins on the European Tour with a belly putter, which he had been using for only two weeks.

2007: After putting a belly putter in his bag just one week earlier, Sergio Garcia misses a 6-foot putt on the 72nd hole to win the British Open at Carnoustie. He would lose in a playoff to Padraig Harrington.

2009: Angel Cabrera wins The Masters with a 39-inch putter. Although longer than the standard putter, Cabrera uses it conventionally and does not anchor the putter to his body.

April 2011: USGA executive director Mike Davis appears on 'Morning Drive' to discuss a possible ban of the anchored putter: 'We don't see this as a big trend. It's not as if all the junior golfers out there are doing this. No one's even won a major using one of these things anchored to themselves. So we don't see this as something that is really detrimental to the game.'

August 2011: Keegan Bradley wins the PGA Championship, becoming the first player to win a major while anchoring a putter to his body. Later that month, Davis expands on his earlier comments: 'To date there's no evidence they are giving anybody an undue advantage. But could we become concerned some day? The answer is, yes.'

September 2011: Bill Haas uses a belly putter to win the Tour Championship – the fifth win by an anchored putter in seven weeks on the PGA Tour. In total, seven different players win on Tour using an anchored putter in 2011.

February 2012: At the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Tiger Woods states that he is against the idea of anchoring a putter to one's body, adding that he feels the putter should be equal to or shorter than the shortest club in the golf bag.

May 2012: Matt Kuchar wins The Players with a long putter braced against his forearm.

June 2012: Webb Simpson becomes the second player to win a major using a belly putter, capturing the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club.

July 2012: Ernie Els wins the British Open using a belly putter, holing a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Runner-up Adam Scott, using a long putter anchored to his sternum, misses a 6-foot putt to tie Els on the final hole. More than 27% of the field (43 of 156 players) use a long or belly putter.

November 2012: At age 14, Tianlang Guan wins the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship with a belly putter, earning an invitation to the Masters in 2013, when he will become the youngest-ever competitor in the event's history.

Nov. 28, 2012: The USGA and R&A announce a proposal to ban anchored strokes, beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

Feb. 24, 2013: Commissioner Tim Finchem announces the PGA Tour's opposition to the proposed anchoring ban, saying that it is 'not in the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour.'

April 14, 2013: Using a broom-handle putter, Adam Scott prevailed in a playoff at the Masters to become the fourth player in the last six majors to win while using an anchored stroke.

May 21, 2013: After a 90-day comment period, the governing bodies announce that Rule 14-1b will be enacted on Jan. 1, 2016, when the next edition of the Rules of Golf is published.

June 29, 2013: PGA of America, which had staunchly opposed Rule 14-1b, announced that it would follow the PGA Tour’s lead on the anchoring ban. 

July 1, 2013: The PGA Tour reverses course and announces that it will adopt Rule 14-1b and ban anchoring at its events, beginning on Jan. 1, 2016.

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Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise

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Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two

By Associated PressMay 21, 2018, 1:20 am

ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.

The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.

Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.

Full-field scores from the Belgian Knockout

''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.

''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''

Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.

Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''

''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''

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Spieth looking forward to Colonial after T-21

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:10 am

DALLAS – Jordan Spieth finally got a few putts to drop at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but after a frustrating week he’s looking forward to heading across town.

Spieth shot a 4-under 67 amid soggy conditions at Trinity Forest Golf Club, his lowest score of the week but one that still left him in a tie for 21st at 11 under par. His frustrations had a common theme throughout the week, as he ranked seventh among the field in strokes gained: tee to green but 72nd in strokes gained: putting.

“Felt like I played better than I scored,” Spieth said. “Just burned the edges or barely missed, and I misread a lot of putts, too. Overall just struggled a little bit matching line and speed and kind of getting it all together out here.”

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth remains in search of his first win since The Open in July, but his results in the interim haven’t exactly been a struggle. This marks his seventh top-25 finish in his last nine starts as an individual.

Spieth is in the midst of a busy part of his schedule, and will play his third of four events in a row next week at the Fort Worth Invitational. With runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 sandwiched around a victory there two years ago, Spieth did little to contain his excitement for a return to venerable Colonial Country Club.

“It’s one of those courses where whether I have my A game or not, I seem to find my way into contention, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “It’s one of four or five places I go into, no matter where the game is at, I’m excited to get started and feel like I have a chance to win.”

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Razorbacks, Fassi scrambling to recover in NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 21, 2018, 12:56 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – We’re not even halfway through this NCAA Championship, and the top women’s player in the country is already worn out.

Indeed, it’s been three rounds of hard work for Maria Fassi as she tries to claw herself and second-ranked Arkansas back into contention at Karsten Creek.

“I haven’t been able to create momentum of any kind,” she said after a third-round 73 left her at 16-over 232, 23 shots off the individual lead and outside the top 90. “I’ve been fighting every single hole. It’s just been exhausting.”

It’s been that way for her teammates, too.

Arkansas entered nationals as one of the pre-tournament favorites. The Razorbacks won the SEC Championship for the first time. They won seven events, including a regional title in which they shot 26 under par on the University of Texas’ home course. They were comfortable knowing that they not only had Fassi, the top-ranked player and a six-time winner this season, but also a strong supporting cast that includes Baylor transfer Dylan Kim and Alana Uriell.

And then the first two rounds happened. The Razorbacks had shot a team score in the 300s just once all season, but they posted two in a row here at Karsten Creek (308-300).

Fassi’s play has been even more of a mystery. In the opening round she shot 81 – with two birdies. She followed it up with a second-round 78, then birdied her last two holes just to shoot 73 on Sunday. She thought she had a smart game plan – taking fewer drivers, putting the ball in play on arguably the most difficult college course in the country – and it just hasn’t worked out.

“I just need to stay really patient, be true to myself and keep fighting,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and if I play my game it’s going to be plenty good.”

So what’s been the conversation among teammates the past two nights?

“It involved a lot of cuss words,” Fassi said. “We know this is not Arkansas golf. We know this is not the game that we play.”

The top-15 cut line should have been an afterthought for a team as talented as the Razorbacks, and yet they needed a 1-over 289 just to play Monday’s fourth round of stroke-play qualifying.

“Backs against the wall, they had to go get it done and they did an awesome job,” said Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor. “In our locker room we call it ‘Do the Possible.’ It’s doing what you’re capable of doing.”

And now the Razorbacks sit in 11th place, just six shots off the top-8 cut after their two worst rounds all season. They still have a chance to advance.

“You can’t panic,” Taylor said. “We’ve played great golf all year. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and it was time to go to work and dig yourselves out of it.”