PGA TOUR: Tiger Woods supports idea of ban against belly putters

Reuters, PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida

Fri, Mar 01, 2013 - Page 19

Tiger Woods supports the idea of banning players from anchoring long putters to their body despite the USPGA Tour’s recent public opposition to a proposal from golf’s rulemakers to outlaw the practice.

In November last year, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R&A) said they wanted to enforce the ban starting in 2016, but PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem came out against that plan on Sunday.

Since Finchem’s comments, two of the leading names in the game, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and now Woods, have come out in favor of supporting the governing bodies.

Finchem’s stance has raised fears of different regulations being in effect for the European Tour and the USPGA Tour, and Woods is among those concerned.

“My position hasn’t changed. I still think it should be swung, it shouldn’t be anchored and that hasn’t changed at all,” Woods told reporters on Tuesday, after the Pro-Am ahead of the Honda Classic.

“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. 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 said.

Three of the last five major tournaments have been won by players using belly putters — Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship, Ernie Els at The Open and Webb Simpson at the US Open.

With those three players all being full-time members of the USPGA Tour, Woods said he understood Finchem’s stance, but said it would not make him change his view.

“I understand that. I get it. All three of them play our tour full-time, have won major championships with an anchored putter. I understand his position, but I still feel that all 14 clubs should be swung. That hasn’t changed nor will it ever,” the 14-time Major winner said.

On Tuesday, McIlroy urged the USPGA Tour to fall in line with whatever decision is made by the two governing bodies.

“We’ve trusted this game of golf; we’ve put it in the hands of the R&A and the USGA for I don’t know how many years, and we’ve always abided by the rules that they have set,” McIlroy said.

“I don’t think this should be any different. I think golf is pretty good at the minute and it’s in good hands,” he added.