Adam Scott shared the 18-hole lead at the HSBC Champions tournament after an opening-round 7-under 65, thanks in no small part to his broomstick putter. The 32-year-old Australian, who finished Thursday’s work with two birdies and an eagle-3 on the par-5 ninth, was the latest manipulator of a big bat to weigh in on the debate raging across golf: To ban or not to ban anchoring.
Anchoring has become a front-burner issue since USGA executive director Mike Davis briefed the PGA Tour’s policy board on the proposed proscription earlier this month. Observers believe that golf’s legislators will hand down a ruling by the end of the year that will ban the stroke rather than the equipment. Since such a prohibition would come in the form of a rules change, players would have four years -- until 2016 -- to make the adjustment.
Scott, who has navigated around the greens with some success since adding a 49-inch Scotty Cameron by Titleist Kombi to his bag last year, was no fan of an anticipated rules change from golf’s governors that would outlaw the way he and others fasten putters to their bodies. But the eight-time tour winner was not quite so adamant in his opposition to a potential ban as others, like Keegan Bradley and Ernie Els, who have suggested they may sue to keep their flat sticks of choice.
Scott’s argument -- like that of Bradley, U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson, and British Open winner Els -- was that anchoring provided its advocates no competitive advantage.
"What's their [the USGA and R&A] criteria for having a look at it?" Scott told Sky Sports after a nearly flawless round that had him tied with Louis Oosthuizen. "No one's given me a good reason yet."
Scott’s reasoning echoed that of Simpson, who pointed out that no tour player in last year’s top 20 of strokes gained-putting (the statistic the PGA Tour uses to measure putting prowess) anchored a putter.
"So the argument of, `It's an advantage,' you have to throw that out there," Simpson told reporters ahead of the recent PGA Grand Slam of Golf. "There's a bunch of arguments going around but I haven't heard a good one yet."
Els, who joined Bradley in suggesting there could be legal action if the USGA and R&A adopted a rules change, joined the chorus.
"It’s not just about tucking it into your belly and you start holing putts," Els told The Telegraph on Wednesday ahead of the HSBC tourney. "A lot of work has to go into it to perfect your style. You still feel the nerves and you can still miss."
Scott, who has talked about how much his confidence has improved since he put a long putter in his bag, would likely not join in any suit, since he told Sky Sports the issue was not "as big a deal maybe as for some others.
"I've played at a high level with both styles of putting," he said.