Players not surprised PGA Tour accepted anchor ban

By Jason SobelJuly 2, 2013, 9:14 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – If Monday was D-Day for those PGA Tour players who anchor their putters, then Tuesday was The Morning After. Or perhaps more appropriately, The Mourning After.

One day after the PGA Tour’s policy board decided to adopt the USGA’s Rule 14-1b and eliminate all anchored strokes beginning in 2016, any contact with these players was prefaced in much the same way someone would approach a person who’d just had a death in the family.

“I’m so sorry about what happened …”

“… I hope you’re doing alright …”

“… let me know if there’s anything you need…”

“… can I make a donation in your name?”

OK, so that last one may have been in jest, but for the small minority of anchormen competing in this week’s Greenbrier Classic, the aftereffects of this decision were no laughing matter.

Anchored-stroke debate: Articles, videos and photos

Timeline: A history of the long putter

Official statement from the PGA Tour on anchor ban

Ask 100 different players about the impending anchoring ban and you’re likely to receive 100 different takes on the issue. They may be as subtle as the breaks in a PGA Tour green, but they’ll be different.

All except the surprise factor. Scour the driving range and practice green Tuesday and you couldn’t find a player who wasn’t expecting this announcement.

“No surprise, really,” said Brian Harman, who anchored in college, then earned his PGA Tour card with a standard-length putter before switching back over a year ago. “I don’t think that there was any way that we were going to play a different set of rules for major golf tournaments. So I think our hands were kind of tied.”

Just five months ago, after the USGA proposed the ban and sought input during a lengthy comment period, the PGA Tour publicly opposed any change to the rules. Now, though, commissioner Tim Finchem has completed a full U-turn, accepting the policy rather than trying to fight it.

You’d think such a maneuver might cause feelings of betrayal amongst those who thought they had support in PGA Tour headquarters, but an informal poll of anchorers showed that reversal was viewed less as deception than sensible business practice.

“He took a stance early on, but we had our doubts,” said Carl Pettersson, who has been anchoring for the past 16 years. “We knew in the back of our minds he wasn’t going to go against the USGA.

“I think the USGA asked for the various organization’s input and the Tour met and we gave them what we felt at the time,” David Hearn agreed. “They went through with deciding that there was a rule change and under our current regulations, we follow the USGA rules. So we were in a spot where we had to decide whether we were going to bifurcate or follow. I don’t think he flip-flopped. I think they asked for everyone’s opinion and we gave it. They decided to go ahead with the rule change and that’s what we’ve got.”

One reason many players believed the rule change was going to go into effect despite the initial opposition is that failing to cooperate with the USGA would in effect cause bifurcation – two different sets of rules for professionals and amateurs.

“Once the USGA made their decision, whether there was pressure to abide or do the same thing, I think as a Tour it’s best for everybody to have one set of rules,” said J.J. Henry, who has gone back and forth with the belly putter for a few years. “So once the USGA said that, it was best for us to follow suit, unless we wanted to open up a whole other can of worms.”

There is actually a case to be made, in fact, that the opposite should have been true.

Rather than make anchoring against the rules for amateurs and legal for professionals, some have contended that it be the other way around – one reason the PGA Tour pushed for a stay of execution for anchored strokes in the amateur game for an extra eight years.

“I wish that, if they were going to ban it, they would just ban it for us,” Harman concluded. “Don’t ban it for guys that play as 10-handicaps or just want to play well in their club championship. Any rule that makes one guy put down a set of clubs is a bad rule. I just don’t see who it benefits. I think they could have had it both ways, I really do. It would have been way more OK if they would have just banned it for us, for the pros. I think that’s what they should have done.

“There are guys who are going to quit over this. Say a guy has a back problem and doesn’t want to bend down. Or somebody just can’t putt and that enables them to get around the golf course and have fun with their friends. Putting is frustrating. It’s the most frustrating thing in golf. And they just made it harder.”

In the end, on the day after D-Day, The Morning After, it may have been Pettersson who best summed up the feelings of the anchorers.

“I don’t think it’s fair, but sometimes life isn’t fair,” he said. “I’ll just have to get on and deal with it.”

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Levy wins Trophee Hassan for fifth European Tour title

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 6:32 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alexander Levy finished with a 2-under 70 Sunday to win the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco by a shot from overnight leader Alvaro Quiros.

One off the lead overnight, Levy made two of his four birdies in his first five holes to hit the front and stayed ahead for the rest of the final day at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

It was the 27-year-old Frenchman's fifth European Tour victory and he will take winning form to Beijing next week when he defends his China Open title.

Levy ended 8-under 280 overall, one ahead of Spain's Quiros, who closed with a second straight 72.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

With his chasers pushing hard, Levy kept his cool after dropping a shot on No. 16. He birdied the short, par-3 No. 17 and made par at the last.

Quiros birdied his last two holes to make sure of second place outright. He needed an eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff.

A group of four players finished in a tie for third, including Italy's Andrea Pavan, who finished with a brilliant 6-under 66. Swedish pair Joakim Lagergren (70) and Alexander Bjork (70) and Finland's Mikko Ilonen (72) also shared third.

Levy had three other top 10 finishes in his five previous events this season and moved up to ninth on the European Tour's Race to Dubai points list.

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(Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

LOS ANGELES - A player eager for her first win and a rookie top the leaderboard at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. Lurking two shots back is a Hall of Famer.

Winless Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie rookie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday at Wilshire Country Club.

Ko shot a 66 in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member after a successful run on the Korean LPGA circuit.

''I'm ready for win or top 10, so maybe tomorrow I will really focus on shot by shot,'' said Ko, who added an exclamation point to her golf bag for each of her wins on the KLPGA. ''I won 11 times, so if I win tomorrow, maybe I change to 12. I need more, I need every time motivation.''

Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

Usually when one of the Thai sisters is in the lead, the other will watch when her round is finished.

''If she's not too lazy, she is probably going to come out,'' Moriya said about Ariya.

Playing in an all-Korean threesome, Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole. The group drew a large contingent of Korean fans.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

''I kind of started off a little bad. I was able to come back strong, so I'm really happy with that,'' Park said. ''I left a few putts out there. The greens around this golf course are just really tough. You just don't know what's going to happen.''

Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

''Today was kind of a pretty rough day for me with not a very good start and like trying to come back,'' Jutanugarn said. ''I just try to play my game and be patient out there I think is the key.''

Jutanugarn, the second-round leader, read the break perfectly on a long putt to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th from 180 yards. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled after three bogeys and a double bogey. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

''It was like one bounce and then it like trickled in,'' Inglis said.

Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 under.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.

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

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

"I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

"I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

"Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."