Tiger Woods still opposes anchored putting

Stuart Franklin

Tiger Woods, despite recent comments that appeared to soften his stance, remains a staunch opponent of the anchored-putting stroke.

"My position hasn't changed,” Woods told reporters on Wednesday after the pro-am tourney prior to this week’s Honda Classic. “I still think it should be swung, it shouldn't be anchored and that hasn't changed at all.”

Woods made his remarks in the wake of commissioner Tim Finchem’s recent public declaration that the PGA Tour was against a November proposal from the USGA and R&A that would ban the putting method starting in 2016.

Woods, who echoed Rory McIlroy’s and others’ concerns, reiterated his unease with the possibility that the European and PGA Tours would play under different rules.

"Obviously nothing is set in stone, nothing is firm. The USGA and the R&A are the governing bodies of our rules and we will see what happens,” Woods said. "Hopefully we don't have to bifurcate or adapt a local rule like we do sometimes out here on tour with stones and bunkers and things like that. Hopefully we won't have to do that with the putter."

Woods, who prior to last week’s match play tourney said he would understand “if we [the tour] go either way” on anchoring, noted he was sympathetic to the plights of Bradley, Ernie Els, and Webb Simpson -- belly-putter users all and three of the last five major champions. On Tuesday, Bradley -- the first player to win a major with a long putter in the bag -- voiced frustration with the whole debate, saying he was sick of people calling him a cheater for jamming his flat stick into his belly.

Woods, however, stood firm in his opposition to Finchem’s view.

"I understand that. I get it....All three of them play our tour full‑time, have won major championships with an anchored putter,” Woods said. “I understand [Finchem’s] position but I still feel that all 14 clubs should be swung. That hasn't changed nor will it ever.”

McIlroy, who has said in the past he was anti-anchoring, was somewhat less decisive about it on Tuesday. He did, however, appeal for unity on the matter, saying one rule was in the best interests of the game.

“I think,” McIlroy said, “we all need to be on one side or the other.”

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