No right or wrong answer to anchoring debate

By Jason SobelMay 21, 2013, 8:05 pm

The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements.”

FORT WORTH, Texas – The preceding comment on the game’s biggest hot-button issue didn’t come from the mind of USGA executive director Mike Davis, nor was it spoken by fellow head honchos Glen Nager or Mark Newell. It wasn’t part of R&A chief executive Peter Dawson’s brazen directive. In fact, it had nothing to do with Tuesday’s landmark decision to ban the anchored stroke beginning on Jan. 1, 2016.

They are the words of Ernest Hemingway.

With exactly 955 days remaining for us to collectively jab the butt ends of putters into our belly buttons and sternums, it is important to understand that this issue, in some shape or form, has subsisted within the game’s inner circles for years and its outer circles for just as long, with Hemingway offering dialogue on the matter as an analogy to grammar in a letter published in 1925. (His initial comparison: “My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible.”)

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The debate has spanned decades, from Ernest the author to Ernie the anchorer. It was Els who once famously stated, “As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of ‘em.” In the wake of Rule 14-1b being implemented into the Rules of Golf, reactions have ranged across the spectrum, with hardly a fence-rider among us. The problem – or perhaps more to the point, the promotion – is that like all equitable debates, there are valid points to be made on all sides of the issue.

Davis argued Tuesday that the governing bodies are simply righting a long-standing wrong. “This was about protecting the fundamentals of what we believe the game has always been and that we do believe this has been a divisive issue that needed to be cleared up.”

Brian Harman employs an anchored putter and doesn’t see why a non-professional’s opinion should adversely affect his career. “It bothers me that guys that have no stake in the game decide how guys are going to make a living doing. I don’t see it (using an anchored stroke) being a huge deal. We have no say in the way that they make those rules. I don’t see how that’s fair.”

Tom Lehman similarly agrees and wonders whether the ruling will impact the USGA and R&A’s global power. “I think the USGA and R&A are setting themselves up for a situation where people don’t follow their lead, which will diminish their credibility as ruling bodies, and I think there’s a potential problem with that.”

Brendan Steele recently switched from anchoring to gripping the putter against his forearm, which will remain legal in 2016 and beyond, but understands the benefit of doing what’s best for him professionally. “I’m going to putt however I can best get the ball into the hole this week and then deal with it moving forward. I’m using the [Matt] Kuchar-style because I feel like it’s the best chance for me to hole putts this week.”

Individually, each argument reeks of common sense – even those which contradict each other. And therein lies the greatest dilemma: There is no right or wrong here.

Unlike drug testing on the game’s elite levels (“All for it,” we say) or slow play (“Let’s erase it,” we contest) or participation (“Need to fix it,” we cry), there is no universal recommendation for the anchoring rule.

Personally, I’d be willing to take part in a Bad News Bears-like chanting process outside the USGA’s Far Hills, N.J., headquarters. “Let them play! Let them play!” But when I listen to Davis or Dawson or a majority of PGA Tour professionals who are in favor of anchoring going belly up in a few years, it’s not as if I view them with disdain or derision. The truth is, I can fully understand their point.

Compounding the matter is the fact that neither answer has been – or will ever be – proven right or wrong. Just as an anchoring ban supporter will quickly point out that four of the last six major championships were won by players placing the end of the putter against their bodies, a contrarian will counter by allowing that the first 418 majors in the game’s history had exactly zero anchoring winners.

What we’re left with is an issue which has two logical points of view and no correct answer. It has become golf’s ultimate enigma, a Rubik’s Cube incapable of being solved. Even so, those who govern and preserve the game declared they uncovered this enigma, accepting their own proposal to the delight and doubt of many.

From Ernest to Ernie, it’s a story which has influenced the game for decades. Trying to solve this problem will only serve to keep it at the forefront.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”