Volvo China Open. Broomstick Brett Wins Again.

Broomstick Brett Rumford won the Volvo China Open, the first Australian in 42 years to win back to back Tour titles.

With this win - Brett Rumford

Brett Rumford / Getty Images

Brett Rumford cruised to victory with a final round of  -4 under par 68, on the Binhai Lake Golf Course on Sunday in the Volvo China Open. His winning total was -16 under par, four shots clear of the field.

Brett said that he was more than happy;

” As with last week I’m kind of speechless at the moment. It’s quite surreal, it’s the first time I’ve actually played the week after a win so I’m more than pleased. It’s hard to get my head around it at the moment. I managed to get up and down when I really needed to. There are some very tight lies round the perimeters of the greens, so it was tricky. My putter was also really on song, as it was last week. It puts a lot of pressure on your opponent when you’re saving par all the time.”

In second place was Finn Mikko Ilonen, a final round effort of -1 under par left him with a total of -12 under par, just one shot ahead of third place. Mikko was disappointed he did not take the opportunity to win, but was full of praise for Brett;

” I had a chance to win, disappointed not to do so but I couldn’t do much more, you saw what Brett did there on the back nine for three holes. I’m speechless, I couldn’t force the issue. I had a number in my mind, which is what Brett finished on. It’s my second second place this year, so hopefully there’s a win round the corner. The confidence is building.  I’ve been hitting the ball nicely most of the time this year. Today I drove the ball really well, and I feel a lot more confident all round. Brett did so well not to make more bogeys, his short game, bunker play and wedges were unbelievable today. I don’t see too many better players than him in the world in that area of his game. So he definitely deserved to win today.”

Third place went to Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, a last round of -4 under par helping him to achieve a tournament total of -11 under par, and third position to himself.

I guess this win will encourage more players to change to the long putter, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington have already made the change. They said if it gives them an edge to win a tournament, it can only be good. Unless the R&A and the USGA actually get around to banning it, it which case they will have to change back again.

 

Putting Updates, Ernie and Phil making Changes

 

 

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Ernie Els, The Open Champion, is going to use his Belly Putter for the last time at a Major, during the Masters at Augusta National next week. He intends to  phase out the controversial Belly Putter ahead of a proposed ban by the R&A, and USGA.

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Ernie Els / getty Images

The Big Easy used a conventional putter for his first three rounds at the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand before taking 29 putts with his belly putter on Sunday in a closing two-under-par 70 to finish tied 14th in the Asian Tour event. Ernie explained about that last round use of the Belly Putter, and also said he went to Thailand to get his swing under control;

“I just wanted to play with the belly putter since it was my last competitive round before the Masters. Mentally, I was going to do the long putter at the Masters. I wanted to feel what it is like under a little bit of pressure. So far this year I’ve played some decent golf in parts, but I’m not quite there on the consistency front. All you can do is keep working hard, though. As we saw last year, your fortunes can change quickly in this game. I came here to get my swing under control, which I think it did. The short game is not too bad, everything is kind of there, it’s just the confidence search now. I’m hitting it nice again, I’m really glad I came here. I’ve had a great experience in Chiangmai,  I just wished I made more birdies.”

If you are still searching for a new putter Ernie, take a look at our website, and contact me.

Phil Mickelson has changed to a jumbo grip on his putter, but intends to keep using the claw grip, he explained;

” I’ll go back and forth because, again the claw grip, what it does is gets me in a better address position where I get rid of too much forward press.  I want a little bit but not as much as I’ve been getting.”

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Phil Mickelson and jumbo grip / Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Looking at Phil in the picture above, I think he is a little too bent over, he needs to stand taller, looking straight down at the ball, this will free up the arms to get a nice pendulum motion. He looks to be reaching for the ball, standing taller will get his feet closer to the ball.

 

“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;

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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.

Australian PGA Championship, Popovic Prevails.

Daniel Popovic / pga.org,au

Daniel Popovic prevailed at the Australian PGA Championship on Sunday at the Palmer Coolum Resort golf course, to win by four shots after beginning the last round with a two shot advantage. Daniel  kept his emotions in check to par the last hole for a closing 69 to finish the tournament at 16-under par and claim his first professional victory. A delighted Daniel said;

“I can’t believe this has happened. I really just can’t believe it”

Anthony Brown finished in a tie for second on -12 under par along with Rod Pampling. Tied in fourth place was Geoff Ogilvy and Brad Kennedy at -11 under par. Big talking Peter Senior failed to match his arrogant rhetoric before the final round, falling to a +5 over par round of 77. No big winds to give him an advantage this week, with his broomstick putter. That should give the R&A and the U.S.G.A  something to ponder over before announcing their anchoring decision.

Congratulations to Daniel, I hope this win will be the first of many more.

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.

BBC in danger of losing The Open coverage, due to incompetence

The BBC is in danger of losing their coverage of golf’s greatest title, The Open, after golf bosses criticised their handling of  The Masters in Augusta. Most of the classicism surrounds their lack of coverage of the game and use of celebrity interviewers. The worst offender was England cricket captain Michael Vaughan who attracted embarrassing ridicule at the Masters by not knowing the number of Green Jackets won by Tiger Woods. After that gaff he compounded the enormous error by leaving the course and final presentation  before the end of play on the final day to go on holiday. Eternal shame on you Michael, and heads should have rolled at the bosses at the top. The BBC is run by the old school tie network, and nothing will change the way they do things, and for that they will lose The Open coverage when the contract runs out in 2016. These people only rate The Open as a B-listed event in the country’s sporting crown jewels, just like the Ryder Cup, incompetence of the highest order. They will only show six days of live golf coverage from next year, these will be the first two days of Augusta and the Open Championship, this will be the only live golf on the BBC from 2013 because of cost cutting.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson has called upon the Corporation to change their restrictive policy or seriously jeopardize losing out on the oldest Major when the current deal runs out in 2016.

“We have certainly had that conversation with the BBC. It is not just golf but tennis that for financial reasons they are making towards the bigger events. Like anything in life, you need to be in practice to do it well and keep up with advances in technology. We obviously want the Open championship to to be seen by as many people as possible. But the BBC know they have got to get off the financial plateau. They know we have got our eye on them.”

Commenting on the Michael Vaughan incident  Dawson added:

“It seemed rather unusual. But matters like that are best left to the BBC.”

Veteran commentator Peter Alliss said:

“It’s like playing poker with someone who has millions when you only have hundreds. The BBC can’t compete. But at the Open, we go through from 9 in the morning until 7.30 at night for four days on the BBC with no interruptions for commercials and it’s there for your licence fee.”

The 141st Open, and the 11th at Royal Lytham , will be staged July 19-22, the course has been lengthened in honor of receiving the worlds best players, and longest hitters. The course at Royal Lytham and St. Annes has been lengthened by 181 yards for this year’s British Open, with all but two holes having been altered since the last time the tournament was held there in 2001.

The R&A confirm “Anchoring” is under review.

 

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The R&A’s Chief Executive Peter Dawson confirmed today that the legality of players “anchoring” their putting stroke is under active review by golf’s governing bodies. There  has been a recent upsurge in use of anchored putting strokes on Tour,  not just among older players, Carl Pettersson recently won the U.S. PGA Tour event the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head. In interview after his win, when asked about the long putter, Carl said;

” I’ll be back to the short one next year when they ban it.”

I wonder if he had already been informed on the impending rule change back then on April 15th 2012. Any action that the governing bodies may take would most probably be to amend the Rules on method of stroke rather than limiting putter length.

Peter Dawson speaking at  a press conference at Royal Lytham & St Annes, venue for this year’s Open Championship, said:

“The use of long and belly putters, and in particular any anchoring of the club against any part of the player’s body, has been under review by The R&A and USGA for some time. The recent upsurge in use of anchored putting strokes on Tour has brought the subject into renewed focus. We appreciate that this is a complex and emotive issue that divides opinion. Any decision will be made with the best interests of the game in mind and introduced only after a lengthy period of notice.”

No specific length of time was mentioned  for a decision to be made, with the final ruling resting with the Rules committees of The R&A and USGA.

 

Cleveland/Srixon’s sales down, CEO Greg Hopkins Worried

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Cleveland/Srixon’s CEO Greg Hopkins has spoken about the downturn on sales, especially in the mid-priced equipment range. That refers to the equipment primarily used by a key demographic for the sport’s future, the golfer who’s raised his interest level toward becoming a frequent player.

Greg Hopkins thinks the game’s playing popularity suffers because of what he sees as misplaced fears that further advancements in equipment will allow professional players to unfairly rewrite the record books. Greg argues that such design limits on equipment advances keep the already challenging sport too difficult for many new players to the game.

Greg speculates golfers are simply holding on to equipment longer to stretch their golfing budgets;

“The game is at a crossroads. This isn’t a cheap hobby, both the cost of equipment plus the daily greens fee a player may incur. That was a bad formula for the prolonged economic downturn. And when families are struggling to meet bills, It’s hard for a player to tell the spouse they need to buy a brand-new $300 driver. We need to get a consensus of what’s the best way to grow the number of golfers.”

A rather strange phenomenon around all the recent advances in technology is that the average handicap of the amateur player has not gone down. Most players still struggle to break a hundred, even when using all the latest equipment. Does this mean the new equipment is not that helpful to beginners, or is it that golf courses have just lengthened their lay-out, or put in extra hazards, like more bunkers to combat the extra distance the player can get from this new equipment.  According to the United States Golf Association in Far Hills. The average handicap for U.S. men, 14.7 in 2007, was 14.5 last year. Women have improved more (27.6 in 2007 to 26.8 in 2011)

Another decision looming on the horizon from The R&A and The USGA is the banning of the long putters. Carl Pettersson said yesterday, after his win at RBC Heritage, about his broomstick putter;

“I will be back to the short one next year when they ban it.”

Carl has been using his broomstick for 14 years, I can not see that banning it now is in the best interests of the game.

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