Newsmaker of the Year: No. 8: Long putters

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2011, 12:00 pm

[Editor's note: Click here for the Top 10 Newsmakers selection process and article release dates.]

It is a measure of the long putter’s dubious place in the game that when asked if he would ever succumb to the unconventional charms of a non-standard length implement Gary Woodland, an old heart in a power-forward’s body, shrugged, “God, I hope not.”

There is no doubt that 2011 was the year of the long putter, but trying to separate the historical fact from the hysteria has become as slippery as a downhill 5-footer at Augusta National.

Like politics and the BCS, there is no middle ground in the long-putter debate. Converts cling to the simple notion that golf’s rules makers have dubbed long putters legal, while critics usually stop just short of the “C” word (cheating) and contend the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews should be penalized two strokes for letting the long putter cloud the competitive waters.

Adam Scott didn’t start the long-putter movement on Tour, but the Australian’s switch at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and subsequent runner-up finish at the Masters qualified him as an original person of interest.

Curiosity turned to concern in August when players using long putters won tournaments on two different tours in four consecutive weeks. In order, Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Keegan Bradley became the first player to win a major with a non-standard length putter at the PGA, Webb Simpson won the Wyndham Championship and Fred Couples claimed his first over-50 major with a long putter at the Senior Players Championship.

A week later Phil Mickelson stunned the status quo when he quietly converted to a long putter at the Deutsche Bank Championship, an experiment that had ended by the time he arrived in Australia for November’s Presidents Cup but a telling sign nonetheless.

All total Simpson came up just short in his drive to win the FedEx Cup – losing to Bill Haas, another long-putter convert, in a dramatic finish at East Lake – and money title, and Bradley would collect the Rookie-of-the-Year Award to go with his two PGA Tour titles. It was all enough to make some wonder aloud if long putters, more so than supercharged golf balls and oversized drivers, were the real threat to the purity of the game.

“You're going to see junior sets sold in golf shops with an option of a belly putter or a short putter soon, which is disappointing,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “It's another step away from the game that's been played for 300 years. . . . But to me golf is two or three woods, irons, a wedge and a putter (and) the putter is the shortest thing in your bag. . . . I don't know, that's the ultimate romantic in me.”

Although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the long putter’s growing influence in the game, the most telling sign of its importance could be found on the money list, the ultimate arbiter of success and failure. Eight of the top 25 players on the season-ending money list used a long putter in competition at some point in 2011, including No. 2 Simpson, No. 7 Haas and No. 11 Scott.

As the gulf between converts and critics expands the only certainty is that 2011 was the year of the long putter.

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."