Bunker Rake: Kuchar Wins, USGA Loses

Darren Carroll

Just in case you were too busy preparing for your big Oscars party this weekend, here is a rundown of what you may have missed in the wonderful world of golf.

Coincidence is a funny phenomenon.

For example, when the hot topic in golf is the proposed anchored stroke ban by the United States Golf Association (USGA), the only thing that can make me smile is a player winning a tournament while using a longer flatstick. Granted, Matt Kuchar doesn't actually "anchor" his 45-inch Bettinardi putter to his torso (he instead braces it against his left forearm), but his unique club choice is just weird enough to get talking heads... well, talking.

Matt Kuchar wins the WGC Accenture Match Play -- I'll freely admit that once Tiger and Rory lost in their respective first rounds this week, I was disappointed. NBC likely was, too. Matters only got worse when other names like Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson lost. Hey, even I changed the channel.

But when defending champion Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar advanced to the championship match -- the first time there was an all-American final in decades -- things seemed to heat up a bit (which was nice, considering the 50-degree weather in Arizona). Mahan had some ridiculous stat of more than 160 holes played without being behind in a match. Kuchar looked like he was freezing most of the day but was still playing masterfully. This might actually be worth a watch!

When all was said and done, of course, Kuchar handled Mahan quite well. Everyone got to see Kuchar's three-mile-wide smile, a deserving champion bring home the crown and all was right in the golf world. Until...

PGA Tour Opposes USGA Anchored Stroke Ban -- Oooooh-wee! This is getting good.

Mike Davis of the USGA is about to become one of the most hated men in professional golf, thanks largely to the PGA Tour. The battle lines have been drawn in the sand on the anchored stroke ban and unfortunately for Davis, tour commissioner Tim Finchem has all he needs to win this war: the support of tour players.

At its core -- and something I have said all along -- the main issue surrounding the proposed ban is a glaring lack of substantial data supporting Davis' view that jamming a putter into your stomach or chest actually makes you a better putter.

"In the absence of data or any basis that it offers a competitive advantage and the amount of time that anchoring has been in the game, there's no overriding reason to go down that road," Finchem said.

Make no mistake about it: the proposed ban is purely based on conjecture and unsubstantiated claims. The USGA (and, to be fair, Scotland's R&A), a few notable golf legends and other grumpy old men simply do not like the anchored putting stroke. Sure, they have the right to change the rules of golf whenever they deem fit; however, now the livelihoods of Tour players are being threatened. Tour players with a strong, resounding voice.

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