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.

 

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.

R&A going to call time on Anchoring

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Ernie Els/ The Open Champion 2012/ Getty Images

The dust had hardly settled over the Royal Lytham & St Annes course, scene of  The Open 2012 and Ernie Els anchoring assisted win on Monday when Peter Dawson of the R&A issued a statement about how soon they would be addressing the problem;

“This decision has not been taken, but I think we are going to say something in a few months rather than years. Anchoring is what we’re looking at, method of stroke, and it’s all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether that fixed pivot point is in your belly or under your chin or on your chest, I don’t distinguish.”

Mr Dawson said that data shows 14-15 percent of the field regularly use a longer putter, and at the Open Championship, that number increased to 27.5 percent. Any future ruling would not invalidate the wins of  The Open champion Ernie Els, PGA champion Keegan Bradley and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, officially or unofficially.

“It doesn’t detract in any way from the winner as long as he obeys the rules of play at the time. Bobby Jones used concave-faced clubs for some of his major championships and they were outlawed later.”

 USGA executive director Mike Davis remains focused on a decision that is best for the entire sport;

“Together with the R&A, we remain deliberate in our review, and are keen on getting any decision right for the long-term, for the game and for all golfers, rather than rush to judgment.”

Strange fact, is what Ernie Els said after Trevor Immelman had won the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open Tournament Players Championship of Europe, using a belly putter;

“It’s become such an easy way to putt. Nerves and skill in putting is part of the game. Take a tablet if you can’t handle it.”

After switching to the belly putter, his demeanor had changed to if you can’t beat them, join them;

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

I guess The Big Easy found out the hard way, there is no tablet to help you win at golf.

What do you think, is anchoring “cheating? “

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.

Brit Lauren Taylor denied by USGA gaffe

A news release put out by the USGA on February 4th announced the addition of four new exemptions into the men’s and women’s US Open Championships: The male and female winners of the 2011 McCormack Awards, given to the highest-ranked amateur players in the world at the end of the year, and the winners of the 2011 British Amateur Championship and Ladies British Open Amateur Championship would all be in the starting lineup. Unfortunately what they meant to say was that exemptions would go to the ” reigning champions” of the latter two events. Since the Ladies British Open Amateur takes place in June, before the US Women’s Open, there will be a new champion crowned this coming June to whom the 2012 exemption will belong. Needless to say that 2011 Ladies British Open Amateur champion Lauren Taylor is pretty miffed at having her invitation withdrawn after she had learned online three weeks ago that the USGA had decided to extend an exemption to the winner of the 2011 LBOAC, she called the news  “unreal” and ‘so exciting.       Today, she was told she won’t be getting the exemption after all. I regard that as pretty poor form and the USGA should honor the offer made to her.

This is their cringing statement;

“The United States Golf Association extends its sincere apologies to 2011 Ladies British Open Amateur Champion Lauren Taylor. We have the deepest appreciation for how disappointed Ms. Taylor must be. The USGA proudly created an exemption category for the champion of the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship into the U.S. Women’s Open as a further commitment to the presence of amateur golfers in our respective major championships. We realize that our error may have caused the Taylor family an inconvenience and we wish to extend to them our regrets and our appreciation for their understanding. What occurred in this case is not typical of the USGA’s level of service to the golf community. We remain committed to working with the highest standards for the good of the game.”

Of course Lauren can still make it into the 2012 USWO through regular qualifying, or by winning the 2012 LBOAC, I wish all her all the best and hope that she makes it there.

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2011 Ladies British Open Amateur champion Lauren Taylor, Photo by Getty Images

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