Tim Clark may sue, Webb Simpson wants separate rules, Ernie Els switch by year's end, and Keegan Bradley is rooting for a Boston sports team for which long flat sticks are the only option.
Remembering anchoring and the ban on the putting stroke Clark, Simpson, Els, Bradley, and a host of other PGA Tour and everyday players use that will be illegal come 2016? During the interruption of our regularly scheduled program, when Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia played through, golfers other than the two warring adversaries weighed in on Tuesday’s news from the USGA and R&A that could have a jarring impact on the way they ply their trades.
The pronouncement that golf’s governing boards would ban anchoring starting in 2016 came as no surprise to anyone and Clark, for his part, was disappointed but ready with his response, which also shocked no one.
“We do have legal counsel,” he told Golfweek. “We’re going to explore our options. We’re not going to just roll over and accept this.”
Clark, who has anchored his long putter since college, has retained the legal services of a Boston attorney who reportedly represents Carl Pettersson as well. The litigants were likely to wait for the PGA tour to determine if it will fall in line with the new edict before going to court.
The latest from Tim Finchem, who said in February that the tour opposed the proposed ban, was a statement saying the organization would release its position “upon conclusion of our process.”
Meanwhile, two reigning belly-putting major champions chimed in on the decision as well. Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open winner called for bifurcation, while Ernie Els conceded he would not have won last year’s British Open with a short stick but will make the change by the end of the season.
Simpson took to Twitter to lobby for tour golfers to have a stronger voice in rules-making decisions, different regulations than amateurs, and to defend his maligned belly bat.
My opinion of the belly putter ruling? I think/strongly feel that we (players) should have way more input into the rules than we have now— Webb Simpson (@webbsimpson1) May 22, 2013
Playing 30 competitive tournaments a year is much different than playing twice a month. So, if our rules are slightly different than— Webb Simpson (@webbsimpson1) May 22, 2013
the rest, no problem at all— Webb Simpson (@webbsimpson1) May 22, 2013
@webbsimpson1 just don't understand if everyone thinks it is an advantage to anchor the putter than why doesn't everyone have an anchor putt— John Walker (@faste31) May 22, 2013
As for Els, who said he would have lost the Open Championship without a flat stick jammed into his gut, questioned the timing of the anchoring ban given that Orville Moody won the 1989 U.S. Senior Open using a long putter. He said, however, that he would roll with the new ruling.
''They are looking out for the best interests of the game in the long run,'' Els told reporters ahead of this week’s BMW PGA Championship in England. ''The argument forever will be they could have done it 25 or 30 years ago, so why now? But it is what it is and we are where we are, and they have made a decision so I think we are going to have to play ball.''
The four-time major champion has been practicing with a putter of conventional length, which, he said, would have done him no good last year at Lytham.
"I was in such a state on the greens then that I don't think I could have won the Open with a short putter," said Els, who began anchoring in 2011 with the explanation that he would “cheat with the rest of them” as long as it were legal. “It was a psychological thing for me and even with the long putter I didn't putt that great -- I was probably in the bottom 10 of the putting stats at Lytham.
"But I'm in a much better place now," he added. "I feel I can get back to working with the short putter again in the future."
That’s just what he’ll do -- after the fourth and final major of the year.
"I've already used it at a tournament in Asia in March," he said. "I felt okay with it. I've been practicing with it and it feels great but you have to take it out on the course. There are obviously going to be more eyes watching us now.”
James Driscoll, another tour player who disdained long putters until he put one in his bag last year, said he would tinker with a shorter stick but would not drop anchor until forced.
“I plan on using the belly putter until the day it is banned,” Driscoll told SBNation in an e-mail on Tuesday. “I will continue to practice with the short putter over the next two years so its not a major adjustment in 2016.”
Then there’s Keegan Bradley, who became the poster child for anchoring as the first golfer to win a major with a long putter. When the USGA and R&A announced its proposed ban in November, Bradley made early noises about seeking legal relief but soon backed off such strident comments.
Since Tuesday’s confirmation that the ban was coming, Bradley has maintained Twitter silence on the issue, though he’s probably too engrossed in the Bruins successful playoff run.
#22!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!' Gooaaalllllll— Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) May 22, 2013
Shawn Thornton is all over the ice. Gooooaaaaalllllll— Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) May 22, 2013