NEWS RELEASE Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the US PGA Tour, has confirmed what was hinted at by a few players last week: the tour has informed the US Golf Association and Britain's Royal and Ancient that its membership opposes their proposed ban on the anchored stroke that has fed the popularity of long putters.
''I think the essential thread that went through the thinking of the players and our board of directors and others that looked at this,'' Finchem said, ''was that in the absence of data or any basis to conclude that there is a competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring, and given the amount of time that anchoring has been in the game, that there was no over-riding reason to go down that road.''
Long putters have been part of the game for decades, but before 2001 only three players had won a US PGA Tour event while using one.
They became a hot issue last year when Ernie Els won the British Open and became the third champion in five majors to use a long putter, joining Keegan Bradley [the 2011 US PGA Championship] and Webb Simpson [the 2012 US Open].
In November, when he announced the proposed ban, Mike Davis, the USGA executive director, said 15 per cent of the players on the US PGA Tour used an anchored putter in 2012. That was up from 11 per cent in 2011 and 6 per cent from 2006 to 2010.
An increasing number of amateurs in recent years have flocked to long putters and the anchored stroke, some in reaction to nerves that caused them to miss short putts.
Finchem did not reveal whether the US PGA Tour would defy the rule should it still go ahead, hoping instead the rule makers will reconsider.
The PGA of America, he said, also opposed the ban.