Golf

McIlroy backs belly putter ban

2012-11-28 21:50
Rory McIlroy (AFP)

Thousand Oaks, California - World No 1 Rory McIlroy was among those welcoming a proposed ban on "anchored" putting, announced on Wednesday by golf's global governing bodies.

"Fully agree with the anchoring ban," the Northern Ireland golfer said on Twitter after the Royal & Ancient and US Golf Association jointly announced they proposed to ban golfers from anchoring putters to their bodies to create a pendulum-type stroke from 2016.

"Better image for the game of golf, skill and nerves are all part of the game. Level playing field in '16," McIlroy tweeted.

McIlroy's comments echoed those that 14-time major champion Tiger Woods has made all year - that an anchored putter does not produce a true golf stroke, and can ameliorate the effect of nerves which should be part competition.

"I don't know if there's any statistical data on it... about whether or not anchoring the putter does help on a certain range of putts, especially the guys who have gotten the twitches a little bit," Woods said this week as he prepared to host the invitational World Challenge.

"But one of the things that I was concerned about going forward is the kids who get started in the game and starting to putt with an anchoring system. There have been some guys who have had success out here, and obviously everyone always copies what we do out here.

"And that's something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted."

The R&A and the USGA said that prior to taking a final decision on the proposed rule change they would "consider any further comments and suggestions from throughout the golf community".

Last year Keegan Bradley became the first player to win a major with a putter anchored on his midriff at the PGA Championship. He was swiftly followed by Webb Simpson at this year's US Open, and Ernie Els - a former critic of the technique - at the British Open.

Perhaps even more attention-grabbing for the game's rule-makers, 14-year-old Guan Tianlang recently claimed a Masters berth by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur using an anchored putter.

The PGA of America, which represents club professionals and stages the PGA Championship major tournament, issued a response indicating a ban could have a chilling effect on the growth of the game.

"As our mission is to grow the game, on behalf of our 27 000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking (R&A and USGA) to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game," PGA of America President Ted Bishop said in a statement.

The PGA Tour issued a non-committal response.

"While the USGA and The R&A have kept us updated on this proposed rule change, we only recently have been able to review the final language and have not until now had the opportunity to share it with our Policy Board and membership," tour officials said in a statement.

"As with any rule change, we will go through our normal process of evaluating the potential impact this will have to all our constituents.

"It will be discussed at our next annual player meeting on January 22 in San Diego, and it is anticipated that it will be reviewed by our Policy Board during its March meeting. During this review process, we will provide periodic updates to our stakeholders."

Read more on:    tiger woods  |  rory mcilroy  |  golf
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