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Another pro against putter ban

Last updated: 20th February 2013

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Steve Stricker: Change of heart

Steve Stricker: Change of heart

American veteran Steve Stricker wouldn't be disappointed to see the PGA Tour ignore the United States Golf Association's (USGA) plan to ban long putters.

Regarded as one of the best putters in the game, the 45-year-old Stricker was once a supporter of the proposed ban, but now believes that the PGA Tour could adopt a local rule that would allow anchored putters.

Currently, the PGA Tour is drafting a response to the USGA's proposal of banning any stroke that is anchored on the body, which targets broom-handle putters and belly putters specifically. The proposed ban first came to light after three of the last five majors were won by someone using a belly puter.

On Monday, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem held a conference call with a 16-member Player Advisory Council, which was followed by a call with the policy board.

"I don't know if that's going to happen; don't even know if the USGA is going to go ahead with the rule change," Stricker, who is one of the players on the policy board, said.

"But I can see the tour adopting the rule saying that it's OK for players to use a long putter. And we have probably a couple other rules out here on our hard card that are different from USGA rules, too. And that wouldn't be any different."

A hard card is the "conditions of competition" that governs the specifics in individual tournaments and would supersede the USGA rules. For example, players would often be allowed replace, lift or clean a ball on the fairway in wet playing conditions, which isn't strictly allowed by the USGA rules.

Moving away from the USGA rules would be a drastic move for the PGA Tour which would mean players might be allowed to use a belly putter in America but wouldn't on the European Tour. It would also mean that players could use a long putter in the Masters, but then not in the Open Championship, since the European Tour has kept mum so far.

You could end up with a situation where reigning Open champion Ernie Els - who is one of the three major winners to have done so with an anchored putter - could compete at the Memorial but not the Dubai Classic, since he is a member of both Tours.

"That is a concern," Stricker added.

Another leading player, Jim Furyk, who also serves on the players' board, said earlier in the week that, while he disagrees with the rules change, going away from the USGA would open "a whole new can of worms in the world of golf."

"Every sport that I can think of has different sets of rules for different abilities and different styles, and I realize that's not what the USGA wants to do," Furyk said.



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