“As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.”

Ernie Els and his Belly Putter /

 Kyle Terada, US Presswire.

Ernie Els said in 2011 ” As long as its legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.”  Seems as if Ernie may now be voicing some concern about the banning of his Belly Putter, a complete 360 on his original quote.

This is what Ernie now has to say;

” For a lot of guys they thought it was a magic wand, you put your hands on it and you’re going to make putts. But it’s taken me a long time to get used to it. So in all honesty, I’m not for it if they change it, but if so then so be it. I’m not the rules maker, there are people that want to look after the game and the future of the game, and if they feel that they need to ban it, I’ll go with it, but I’m definitely not for that.”

Ernie jumped camp and turned to the belly putter two years ago, the use of this putter ended more than a two-year Tour winless drought, with his Major victory at The Open last July at Royal Lytham and Saint Annes.

Although the  proposed ban on anchoring, Rule 14.1b, by the sport’s governing bodies. the R&A and the U.S.G.A, is not due take effect until the year 2016, the Tour could create its own rule and outlaw the method much earlier, perhaps as soon as OctoberErnie has admitted he has recently played a couple of rounds at the Johor Open with a conventional putter;

 ” 

It felt quite good”

But Ernie has no plans to change back to the conventional putter anytime soon, may be the Tour could force him into the swap sooner than he thinks.

Belly Putter Ban Imminent ?

It is commonly understood an official from the R&A will make presentations to the golf playing professionals at this week’s HSBC WGC Champions event in Shenzhen and then at next week’s Barclays Singapore OpenMike Davis, the chief executive of the USGA, has already held such a seminar with PGA Tour players. It is likely that they will take a formal vote in March, to decide if, and when, the ban will come into force. It is possible that a ban could be in place for competition from the start of 2013, or they may wait until the end of the current rules cycle which runs through December 2015. Either way it looks fairly certain that  they are going to eradicate the belly putter altogether. The catalyst for this action seems to be the fact that three of the last five major winners have used belly-putters. Strangely enough there is no mention of the broom-stick putter in this decision-making process, but if the ruling is based on Anchoring, rather than the length of the putter, jamming a putter under your chin, or chest would also be eliminated.

Davis Love 111, the US Ryder Cup captain, attended the meeting with the USGA representative in Georgia, he expressed the view that whatever path the authorities took, they should proceed with haste.

” If they said today, we met with the Tour and we’re going to change putters; Keegan Bradley is going to get himself a conforming putter and he’s still going to be a really good putter. He’s just going to have to make a change, but you’d rather not talk about it for three years and have it be a distraction.”

Webb Simpson, the US Open champion is already practicing with a conventional putter, in readiness of a rule change, although he disagree’s with the argument for a ban;

” I’m friends with a lot of the R&A and the USGA guys and I know they are trying to do it for the betterment of the game. But I don’t think it’s a good decision. If you look at the stats, last year there was no one in the top 20 of the strokes gained category who anchored a putter. So you have to throw out the argument of  it’s an advantage right there. There’s a bunch of arguments going around but I haven’t heard a good one yet.”

Players like Matt Kuchar, who use a long putter but do not Anchor it will be free to continue using such equipment if the ban itself is centered on the anchoring point and not just the length of the putter. It will be extremely interesting to see how this event pans out, is it really going to make the game better, or fairer, I actually doubt it.

Arnold Palmer @ Mastercard Extend Their Contract

 Chris McWilton,  the president of  U.S. markets for MasterCard have announced their support of Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill with an extension of their sponsorship of this great tournament for another four years through 2016.

Arnold was very happy with this announcement;

notablebiographies.com    

” Of course I’m very happy to have the extension by MasterCard and it puts a lot of things to rest for the next few years. We will continue to work to make this tournament the best tournament on the TOUR. And I mean that. With the hospital and the things that are happening there, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be able to say the things that the neonatal intensive care unit, the expansion of that, and the things that will happen in the next couple of years there, is something that is very, very important to us. And of course, the hospital itself with all of the various units, whether it be heart, kidneys, you name it, we are striving to be the best. And that is also very important to me. The tournament itself, this year is something that is really going to make, I think, history in the game of golf. The golf course itself is by far the best it’s been any time in the 34 years that we’ve had this tournament. And I think the players realize that we are working hard to make this golf tournament one that will get everyone’s eye and attention. And through the years, we will continue to do the things that we are doing to make the golf course better, and to make the players come here and enjoy this competition.”

“This is wonderful. It just continues with something that has been very, very good. The hospital is thriving. And of course the new neonatal intensive care unit with the addition is very important to all of us. And as you know, the Arnold Palmer hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital and the Medical Center turns no one away.”

“So all of that is one of the great things that’s happening out of this tournament, and something that makes us all very happy. And to have  Chris, to make this announcement is also kind of a landmark and something that we are all very pleased and proud about. So with the announcement of the four more with MasterCard and our sponsors, I am most appreciative of all the things that are happening.” “Thank you very much.”

Arnold was then asked about his views on belly, and broomstick putters, he gave an interesting reply;

” Well, you’re opening up a big subject there. Of course, I don’t think there’s ever been a club made that I know of that has not been in my bag. (Laughter) May not stay long, and the long putter is one of them. I’m not a fan of long putters. I suppose that if I were playing, and a long putter, being totally legal, and would help my game, I might use it. But I’m opposed to it personally. I just think that there shouldn’t be a place in the game for anchoring a club against the body, which is what the long putter does. So, technically, and principally, I am against it. But would I use it if it were going to enhance my game in the competition? I might.”

Interesting comments, I will be sending one of our White Dragon Putters to Arnold for his collection, would also be nice to get some comments from him on its performance. Talking about putting practice Arnold said the best advice given to him was;

“Man, you’re the greatest putter in the world. Well, that was probably what I needed, somebody to give me confidence in the fact that I could putt.”

Is This the End of the Belly Putter ?

Mike Davis of the USGA says that they and the R&A are taking a fresh look at the  phenomenon of the belly putter, and it’s place in the game of golf. Anchoring, as it is commonly called in R&A and USGA circles, refers in general to any putting method in which the putter is secured against the body.  Davis who in the past  has talked sympathetically about golfers whose careers have been saved or extended by chest putters or belly putters has changed his stance on the hot topic. He was speaking at the  USGA annual meeting, which ended Saturday evening at the Houston Hilton Post Oak Hotel. These are his words on the subject;

“All of a sudden this has become a much bigger topic, the USGA and R&A have been talking about this at length. We are looking at it from a perspective that,  what we should look at for everything. What is good for the game, for all golfers, long term I will tell you, the R&A was in Far Hills (N.J.) last week. We have an annual meeting where we talk about all kinds of issues about how we govern the game worldwide.”

“We did talk about various equipment issues, including anchoring. Our board  the USGA Executive Committee, did talk about it this week as well. There are no outcomes at this point.”

“It is something we have taken a fresh look at. More players are using it, both on the elite level and the recreational level. We want to be sure that we are looking at all the angles and thinking about what is in the best interests both of the traditions of the game, the history of the game, and what we think would be good for the game.”

The R&A have a particular view that they do not like the fact that golfers can steady themselves by using a putter as a crutch in windy, rainy or cold weather. In essence, they are steadying themselves with the putter. This was never intended under the Rules of Golf. They are using the putter for something other than a traditional stroke.

If they do change the rules it will not be to ban the belly putter, but rather the method of putting, which is anchoring.

Webb Simpson lines up his birdie putt on the 18th hole during the final round of The Greenbrier Classic.Photo by Getty Images

Levin & Stanley lead 1st round at Torrey Pines

Spencer Levin and Kyle Stanley lead the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Both American players shot 62 for rounds of -10 under par on the easier North course. The best score of the day on the tougher South course was from Marc Turnesa with a 66 for a total -6 under par for the tournament.

Fijian Vijay Singh and Aussie Greg Chalmers shot 64 and 65 respectively, on the North course, to finish the day comfortably in touch with the leaders. Left hander Chalmers had an eagle three at the par five 18th, with a putt of 48 feet, which really gave a lift to his opening round and a nice way to celebrate Australia Day.

Phil Mickelson had a tough day on the South course shooting a +5 over par round of 77, and seemed really out of touch, and will need an exceptionally low round tomorrow when he tees it up for the easier North course.

He was asked about his driving performance, and what driver was he using today, this is his reply;

“I am using our new Razr Hawk driver. I didn’t use it the first round last week, and it was a mistake. I don’t know what I was thinking, I worked with it. I felt good with it, I just didn’t want to make any changes from the previous season.”

He also spoke about his putting woes;

” There is no shortcut in putting, that no matter what method you use. You still have to see the line and you still have to match it up to the proper speed. And I think that for me I was looking for a shortcut with the belly putter. I found what was best for me was to go back to how I was putting as a kid, growing up with a blade style putter. And an aggressiveness that I had at a younger age.”

Mickelson full interview at Farmers Insurance Open