Champions Tour PAC tackles anchored putters, bifurcation

By Rex HoggardFebruary 8, 2013, 12:02 am

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Michael Allen leaned against his 47-inch mallet-headed putter, choked back a smirk and went on the offensive as a reporter approached him on a warm morning in south Florida.

“You’re going right to the long putter,” he sighed.

“We could go straight to deer-antler spray,” the reporter shot back.

“That’s easy, don’t know what it is but I think some guys are getting more hair on top of their head,” Allen laughed before launching into a brief review of the Champions Tour Player Advisory Council meeting early Thursday at the Allianz Championship.

Allen had already come to grips with the fact that, however reluctantly, he had arrived at the epicenter of the ongoing anchoring debate.

“They said that’s why I’m there,” Allen smiled when asked about his unique position on the 13-player PAC. Of the 12 PAC members who attended Thursday’s meeting he was the only one who regularly uses a long putter, although statistically those demographics don’t dovetail with the number of Champions Tour members who anchor.

According to officials at the meeting, which lasted about an hour, 18 percent of Champions Tour players use a belly or long putter. Anecdotally that two of the three players (Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples) on the cover of this year’s Champions Tour media guide use long putters is a more relevant snapshot of anchoring’s status among the seniors.

As the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient march toward a final decision on the proposed anchoring ban – the deadline for the current 90-day comment period ends on Feb. 26 – attention has turned to the PGA Tour and how the play-for-pay world will deal with the possible ban.

Two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open, USGA executive director Mike Davis spoke at a player meeting that featured an impassioned presentation from Tim Clark, a long-time user of the long putter, and the next day commissioner Tim Finchem left the door open to the possibility that the circuit could deviate from a potential anchoring ban, although many contend that is not likely.

Yet where the PGA Tour and commissioner seemed poised to stay out of the rule making business, and avoid a bifurcation of the Rules of Golf, the Champions Tour, an entity unto itself, may well become the metaphorical line in the anchoring sand pit.

The idea that the Champions Tour could ignore the proposed ban seemed to gain momentum, at least in theory, following Thursday’s meeting.

“I would hate to break away from what the PGA Tour does, but yeah. I probably would (be in favor of bifurcation on the senior circuit),” said Peter Jacobsen, a member of the Champions Tour PAC. “To keep people like Langer, a Hall of Fame superstar and one of the best people I’ve ever met, to keep him playing. Michael Allen, Fred Couples, go down the list. I want these guys playing. We probably could (bifurcate).”

In many ways the Champions Tour already exercises a level of bifurcation with the PGA Tour. Senior players are allowed to use golf carts during rounds, at least currently, and as we’ve learned over the last week the senior circuit does not test players for performance-enhancing drugs.

Taking the fork in the road away from the USGA, and probably the PGA Tour, would seem an easy choice if faced with the alternative, which would be running some of the circuit’s top stars out of the game.

“I would certainly try (to putt) another way,” Langer said. “It depends on what happens and we’re still in the question phase, but if I don’t enjoy the game anymore then I would stop playing.”

Not every Champions Tour PAC member was in favor of the circuit creating its own rules. Brad Faxon, one of the game’s best putters and a first-year PAC member, didn’t seem as open to the idea of two sets of rules as Jacobsen and Allen.

“I don’t think we would (bifurcate). That would be a mistake for us to do something different,” Faxon said. “It’s a hot topic especially out here. But the hardest thing to do is to get a rational, non-biased opinion on what is best for the game and what is best for the tour. . . . Who really has the best interest of the game? That’s where we have to leave governing away from us.”

Champions Tour officials plan to survey the members and draft a report in an attempt to gain a consensus on anchoring in advance of the measure’s final vote later this spring.

“We want to get an idea where everybody is. Just like in politics you are going to have way right and way left. We need to listen to the guys in between and figure out what is best for this Tour and what’s best for golf,” Jacobsen said.

With one in five players on the senior circuit using a longer-than-standard-length putter the electorate, more so than on the PGA Tour, may well be less concerned with unification than they are self-preservation.

“I don’t understand why the PGA Tour doesn’t make its own rules in the first place. Just because we have a certain set of rules out here doesn’t mean that you playing in your club championship can’t use them,” said Allen, a three-time winner on the over-50 circuit, including the 2009 Senior PGA Championship with a belly putter. “It’s just going to drive people from the game.”

Allen was echoing a concern held by many of his PAC frat brothers that a ban on anchoring may drive amateurs away from the game, but the same sentiment applies for a collection of Champions Tour stars like Langer and Couples. And that may be the best case for bifurcation to date.

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Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

“Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”


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This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

“I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

“The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

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DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.






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Firefighter Parziale ties for low am with dad on bag

By Associated PressJune 17, 2018, 11:07 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Leaning on his club, Matt Parziale crossed one leg over the other and placed the free hand on his hip. His caddie mirrored his position and used Parziale's bag as his source of support. The two looked almost identical, just one older than the other.

Being related will do that.

Parziale's dad, Vic Parziale, has been with his son throughout his entire U.S. Open journey, starting Monday and ending Father's Day. Matt finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.

''We do stand alike out there,'' Vic said. ''It's funny.''

Said Matt: ''I don't like it, but that's how life goes.''

He's kidding. The idea of turning into his dad doesn't scare him.

''He's the best guy I know,'' Matt said. ''If I can be half that good, I'll be doing all right.''


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It's a classic like father, like son relationship.

Matt, 31, is a full-time firefighter back home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Vic retired from the same station last year after 32 years.

The two, obviously, also share a love for golf.

''He stinks now,'' Matt said. ''I'd have to play pretty bad to let him win. He used to be much better than he is now.''

Matt says he was 14 the first time he beat his dad. Vic says his son was 15. Either way, once Matt beat Vic's 73 by a stroke as a teenager, it was game over.

Vic never beat his son again.

''Golf skipped a generation for sure,'' Vic said. ''Because I don't play like him.''

As the first mid-amateur to make a cut at the U.S. Open in 15 years, Matt's second round was his best, carding a 73 with a birdie on No. 18 that guaranteed him a spot in the final rounds.

On the last day, Matt shot a 75 to end up at 296, the same mark fellow amateur Luis Gagne scored. Will Grimmer was the only other amateur to make the cut, and he finished 23 over at 303. The tournament started with 20 amateurs.

This was Matt's first U.S. Open. He played at the Masters earlier this year, but did not advance after two rounds. Vic was his caddie there, too.

''Mostly, I just carry the bag and keep my mouth shut,'' Vic said.

His specialty is wind: Matt does go to his dad for advice there. It helped this week.

''I don't get paid,'' Vic said. ''I don't want to be, of course. I just love doing it.''

The two have worked alongside each other for as long as either can remember. After college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, Matt turned pro but called it quits after a couple years when it didn't pay off financially. That's when he became a firefighter.

But Matt never fully gave up golf, regaining his amateur status and going on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship back in October. Vic caddied, of course.

''It's not something that happened over night,'' Vic said. ''He just wasn't lucky getting here. He really worked hard on his game.''

Being a firefighter actually allows him to practice and compete often. Matt works two 24-hour shifts a week.

He's not returning straight to his full-time job immediately, though. His upcoming golf schedule is packed. Starting Wednesday, Matt will compete in the Northeast Amateur tournament. Then he'll have the U.S. Amateur - after he gets married on Aug. 3 - and more.

Wherever and whatever, Vic will be standing nearby.

''He's always given me the opportunity to succeed,'' Matt said. ''None of this is possible without his support and his help.''

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Koepka wins U.S. Open for second straight year

By Nick MentaJune 17, 2018, 10:40 pm

Brooks Koepka on Sunday shot a final-round 68 to become just the seventh man in history to win the U.S. Open in back-to-back years. Here’s how Koepka managed to conquer a schizophrenic Shinnecock Hills and the field:

Leaderboard: Koepka (+1), Tommy Fleetwood (+2), Dustin Johnson (+3), Patrick Reed (+4), Tony Finau (+5)

What happened: Tied for the lead to start the day and playing in the second-to-last group with his good friend Johnson, Koepka raced out in front with birdies on three of his first five holes en route to a front-nine 2-under 33. Up one at the turn over Johnson, Reed and Fleetwood - who was already in the clubhouse following a round of 7-under 63 - Koepka birdied the par-4 10th and then pulled off a series of saves that ultimately won him the championship. He holed a 13-footer to save bogey at No. 11, saved par via a deft flop shot from the back of the green at 12, and then – after letting a birdie opportunity slip by at 13 – managed to get up and down from 67 yards for par at the 14th. Following a par at No. 17, the victory march was briefly in doubt when Koepka hooked his approach to the 18th green nearly into the grandstand. Unshaken, he pitched on to 14 feet, lagged his par putt, and tapped in for bogey to finish 1 over.

One clear of Fleetwood through 15, Koepka stuffed a wedge from 122 yards to inside 4 feet at the par-5 16th and cleaned up the birdie putt to go up two with two to play.


What it means: This is only Koepka’s third PGA Tour victory, but of course it’s his second major title and second U.S. Open. The 28-year-old, who missed four months this year with a wrist injury, joins Willie Anderson (1903-05), John McDermott (1911-12), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Guldahl (1937-38), Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89) as the only men to successfully defend their U.S. Open titles.

Round of the day: Six back to start the final round at 9 over par, Fleetwood took advantage of a literally watered-down golf course to tie the U.S. Open single-round scoring record with a 63. Last year’s Race to Dubai winner made eight birdies and lone a bogey. The 62-watch was on after Fleetwood circled Nos. 12-15 for four birdies in a row. Unfortunately for Fleetwood – and fortunately for Johnny Miller – the Englishman missed birdie putts from 13 feet, 20 feet and 9 feet on his last three holes, with his final attempt on the 72nd hole losing speed and missing low.

Told after the round that he was just the sixth player in history to record a round of 63 in the U.S. Open, Fleetwood was quick to answer, “Yeah, but I wanted 62.” He would wait another three hours to watch Koepka best him by one.


Biggest disappointment: In a way, it’s Fleetwood, who came thisclose to history on two fronts and walked away with neither the outright record nor the U.S. Open trophy. That said, it’s hard to fault the guy who shot 63. And so, this category has to belong to Johnson, the 2016 champion at Oakmont who entered the weekend ahead by four and closed with 77-70 to lose by two. He mixed four birdies with four bogeys Sunday, his final birdie at the last proving too little, too late. His biggest issue? The 72 putts he took over the weekend on Shinnecock's browned greens. This is the third U.S. Open in the last eight years (2010, 2015, 2018) to slip through his fingers on Sunday.

Other names of note: Reigning Masters champion Reed got off to a blistering start with birdies on five of his first seven holes to tie for the early lead. But a bogey at No. 9 would prove the beginning of his end. He paired a front-nine 31 with a back-nine 37 to shoot 2-under 68 and finish solo fourth. Conversely, the two men in the final pairing, Finau and Daniel Berger, both stumbled out of the gate, each playing the first six holes in 2 over, surrendering a lead they would never get back. Finau (71) fought back to even on the day but made an expensive double at No. 18 to drop from T-3 to solo fifth. Berger (73) parred 18 to stay in a three-way tie for sixth. Both men recorded their best career finishes in a major.