Tiger Woods stands firm on anchoring ban

Stanley Chou

Woods worries that youngsters will copy their belly-putting heroes.

Tiger Woods is no fan of belly putters and Tuesday he reiterated his support for a ban of an increasing number of golfers maneuver the long sticks. The defending champ at this week’s World Challenge tournament said he let USGA officials know where he stood on the issue, but would not take credit – or blame – for a pending ruling from golf’s governing bodies that will likely outlaw the anchoring of putters.

“I was just asked my own opinion and that was it,” Woods told reporters, who peppered U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson and last year’s PGA champ Keegan Bradley with queries about what they’ll do should the USGA and R&A on Wednesday announce a ban on the anchoring stroke.

“I don’t know if it carried any weight or not,” said Woods, who has long opposed the practice of anchoring, arguing that it flies in the face of the game’s traditions. “I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling the nerves. We swing all other 13 clubs; I think the putter should be the same.”

Woods’ primary concern was protecting youngsters from mimicking their elders when it came to jamming long putters into their guts or chests a la Simpson, Bradley, British Open winner Ernie Els, and many other PGA Tour golfers.

“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,” Woods said. “There’ve been some guys who’ve had some success out here and obviously everyone always copies what we do out here. That’s something that for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted.”

Woods also said he understood why some observers favored implementing one set of rules for professionals and another for amateurs, but he said he was firmly opposed to such bifurcation.

“I just think that it’s nice if we play on a global basis ... meaning that everyone plays under the same rules,” Woods said. “It’s nice for amateurs to understand they’re playing by the same guidelines we are; to me that’s important for the traditions and enjoyment of the game that everyone’s under the same auspices.”

With debates like whether to make different golf balls available for pros and average golfers ongoing for years, Woods noted that it would be difficult to determine where to draw the line.

“Say you have it at the pro level – OK where at the pro level are we talking about?” Woods wondered. “Are we talking about the club pro level, are we talking at the mini-tour level, and what part of the mini-tour level are you talking about? Are you just talking about the PGA Tour and the European Tour, and even then, they play co-sanctioned events all over the world.

“It gets very very complicated,” Woods continued, “but if you make it global and universal, it solves a lot of problems.”

Unless, of course, you’re Simpson, Bradley, et al., making your living by fastening putters to various body parts. Bifurcation or not – and though Simpson said he had practiced with a shorter putter and may be ready to use one in time for the PGA Tour’s 2013 season-opener in Hawaii – an anchoring ban could have an enormous impact on the way the two major champions play the game.

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