Newsmaker No. 5: Anchored putting ban

By Rex HoggardDecember 21, 2012, 3:44 pm

Mike Davis paused on his way to the first tee at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to consider a question that had been consuming him for months.

Davis, the executive director of the U.S. Golf Association who was moonlighting as a walking official at this year’s Open Championship, was all too familiar with the drumbeat both for and against the act of anchoring during the swing, more specifically the putting stroke, and considered his answer carefully.

“In the last year and a half things have changed,” Davis explained. “There are a lot more recreational players going to (the long putter). There are instructors that are telling golfers this is a better way to putt, there are a lot more juniors using it and this wasn’t happening before.”

Newsmaker No. 10: Stacy Lewis | No. 9 PGA Tour | No. 8 Jim Furyk | No. 7 British Open | No. 6 Bubba Watson

Little more than 24 hours later, Ernie Els hoisted the claret jug for the second time in his Hall of Fame career to become the third player in the last four major championships to win a Grand Slam title using a long putter. It is considered by some the metaphorical final nail in the anchoring coffin.

Davis has continued to stress that the USGA and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews’ decision to ban anchoring – an announcement that wouldn’t come for another four months – was based on the increased use at the grassroots level, but for those who adhere to the simple cause-and-effect nature of things, this move was all about Els & Co.

The USGA and R&A’s plan became more transparent at October’s McGladrey Classic when Davis outlined the proposal to the PGA Tour’s Policy Board. It was at the posh Sea Island (Ga.) Resort that the theoretical officially became a thorn in the Tour’s side.

At the time the Tour stressed to Davis that whatever move they made, and it was evident the powers that be planned to ban anchoring, they needed to act quickly.

“As I told Mike Davis we will have 10 guys who are vehemently against you and 10 guys who are vehemently for you and the rest are going to go play,” said Davis Love III at Sea Island, one of four player directors on the Policy Board. “The only thing I would be concerned about is if they make this rule but it’s not going to go into effect until 2016. It’s just going to drag on. I hope when they do it they just cut it off and do it. We’d rather not talk about it for three years and let it be a distraction.”

Love’s company line proved painfully prophetic at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge in November when a fan called Keegan Bradley, the first player to win a major championship anchoring a putter at last year’s PGA Championship, a “cheater.”

“I had a guy yesterday telling me to send my application in to Burger King for 2016,” Bradley said at Sherwood Country Club.

For the Tour, that kind of heckling is the “broken arrow” scenario, an ugly reality that awaits any player who is unlucky enough to win an event before the ban goes into effect in January 2016.

It also creates a scheduling issue for the circuit, which will transition to a split-calendar season next year which means officials would need to implement the rule early for the 2015-16 season, late for the 2016-17 calendar or perhaps not at all, although that doesn’t seem likely given the Tour’s aversion to rule bifurcation.

There was also an undercurrent among Tour players who use long putters that they could challenge the new rule legally, although that movement seemed to lose momentum in the days following the Nov. 28 announcement.

“Honestly, in my heart, for me to seek legal action . . . if I get to a point where I want to use a belly putter that bad, whether I want to get on the team with the guys that are or not, I don't know yet,” said Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open using a belly putter. “I don't know. Bottom line is I'm ready. I'm not worried.”

Neither did the USGA and R&A – which outlined the new rule in a media blitz that featured detailed explanations and examples of what type of strokes would be banned – seem overly concerned when they unveiled the proposed new rule which will not be finalized until next spring.

“Anchored strokes threaten to supplant traditional strokes, which with all their frailties are integral to the long-standing character of our sport,” said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson. “Our objective is to preserve the skill and challenge, which is such a key element of the game of golf.”

As Davis explained in July, this wasn’t about what happens at the game’s highest level so much as it was a course adjustment to stem a tide that was beginning to surge from the grassroots level. The rest of the debate, however, will surely focus on the top of the pyramid.

Newsmaker of the Year schedule

No. 10: Stacy Lewis

No. 9: PGA Tour

No. 8: Jim Furyk

No. 7: British Open

No. 6: Bubba Watson

No. 5: Anchored putting

No. 4: Dec. 23

No. 3: Dec. 26

No. 2: Dec. 28

No. 1: Dec. 31

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.