Monday, February 25, 2013


Golf Correspondent, at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida  
The European Tour is set to side with the Royal and Ancient and the United States Golf Association over the anchoring ban controversy and leave the US PGA Tour to fight the proposed rules changes on its own.
Wentworth HQ has still to comment on the stance of its American counterparts, although it was intimated to Telegraph Sport on Monday that George O’Grady, the European Tour’s much-respected chief executive, would address the matter publicly soon.
That will probably come later this week when the 90-day consultancy period expires and when the R and A will also makes its views known about the US resistance.
Tim Finchem, the US PGA Tour’s commissioner, appeared on the live American telecasts during the final of the World Matchplay Championship on Sunday to announce its opposition to the ban.
He pointed out that “at the moment we are only giving our opinion” and claimed the policy board had “carefully and intentionally, avoided at this point getting into a discussion about that issue [of ignoring the ban].”.
But the fact Finchem used such a high-profile stage to make the declaration was, at the best, provocative.
The American players are spoiling for a fight and, unless the governing bodies back down over the forthcoming weeks before the law is ratified, they will seriously consider ignoring the new rule if and when it is introduced in 2016.
How Europe reacts could be critical in the debate.
O’Grady was in Tucson last week and held a meeting with Finchem, although no details emerged.
Telegraph Sport has discovered he also took a phone-call from Peter Dawson, the R and A chief executive.
O’Grady and the European Tour have been put in an invidious position, but it is understood there is little appetite to wage war against the rules-makers.
A split between the professional and amateur games could obviously be seen as being detrimental to golf’s future.
There would also be the absurd scenario of long putters being allowed in regular events but not in The Open, controlled by the R and A, or the US Open controlled by the USGA. The Masters would be expected to fall in line with the traditionalists.
Therefore the European Tour should be commended if it remains faithful to the governing bodies.
The issue has barely been discussed by the Tournament Players Committee and this body will not meet for at least another month.
Colin Montgomerie is a member of that committee.
“This has opened up a whole new can of worms,” Europe’s former Ryder Cup captain told Sky Sports.
“It’s a very dangerous situation we are getting ourselves into and I do hope they can sort this out very, very quickly.”
On Monday the USGA released a statement which revealed the timescale for proposed Rule 14-1b, which would ban anchoring the club when making a stroke.
“The 90-day comment period remains a very good process,” it read.
“We continue to listen to varying points of view. As we consider the various perspectives on anchoring, it has always been our position that Rule 14-1b aims to clarify and preserve the traditional and essential nature of the golf stroke.
"It is our plan to take final action on the proposed rule in the spring.”
Finchem revealed that 13 of the 15 members of his Player Advisory Council were not in favour of the ban, saying there was no statistical evidence of the long putters providing an advantage.
The PGA of America has also stated objections, believing such a move is not in the best interests of the game.
“The PGA of America has concluded that it will hurt the game with certain numbers of amateurs. We agree,” said Finchem.
“The professional game globally is stronger than it’s ever been and that on the heels of having anchoring as part of it for the last 30 or 40 years. You can’t point to one negative impact of anchoring.”
Montgomerie does not agree. 
“I thought, as we all did, that the Rules of Golf were set by the R and A and the USGA. Tim Finchem has obviously thought otherwise,” he said.
“I think we should go with what the R and A and USGA feel. To now go against that and say ‘my players aren’t going to go by that’ then what happens when you come to USGA events or the Open?
“Does that mean other rules can change as well? We want to play as one under the same rules.”



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