Belly putting ruled out by 2016

Posted Tuesday, May. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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PGA Tour officials responded swiftly to Tuesday’s announcement that golf’s governing bodies will prohibit anchored or “belly” putting by 2016, raising the possibility that the tour could have a different rule than amateurs.

In its statement, the PGA Tour said its administrators “will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions.”

However, a statement by the LPGA is backing the USGA and R&A: “While we know that not every one of our members is in favor of the rule change, the LPGA will continue to respect and follow the Rules of Golf.”

The long putters will be permissible in the future, but players can’t anchor the club against their bodies.

The change “is necessary to preserve one of the important traditions and challenges of the game — that the player freely swing the entire club,” USGA president Glen D. Nager said in a prepared statement.

According to a Golf Channel report, 28 percent of the 2012 British Open field used a belly putter. Ernie Els won with a belly putter, holing a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole.

Anchored putting has been allowed for two decades.

“It’s a club that doesn’t conform to the idea of how the game as meant to be played,” Rickie Fowler said following a practice round at Colonial. “I’ve messed around with it some but never put it in play. I feel like the long putters have helped several guys improve their games. Putting’s always going to be difficult.”

For the average player, “I don’t see anything wrong with it,” said Corey Pavin. “It makes it fun for people who play golf, and that’s what it’s supposed to be.”

Family connection

Colonial rookie John Peterson, who has a cousin in Moore, Okla., is this week donating $100 for every birdie and $500 per eagle to Red Cross relief efforts in Oklahoma. Peterson said his cousin’s home was not damaged, but her neighbors’ homes were affected.

Colonial participants Justin Bolli, Casey Wittenberg, Nicholas Thompson and Stuart Appleby will also make the same donations for Oklahoma relief.

At Colonial on Tuesday, play was suspended at 2:30 p.m. as storms approached. Practice rounds resumed an hour later. Total rainfall was .22 inches, with wind gusts reaching 35 mph.

Persevering Pavin

Two-time Colonial champion Corey Pavin is making his 30th appearance at this week’s event.

“It’s a golf course that I feel very comfortable on, and I’m just hoping to go out this week and score well,” said Pavin, who won in 1985 and ’96. “I feel like I can compete on this golf course; one of the few on the tour that I feel like I can.”

Worthy of watching

Some notable pairings for Thursday and Friday include last week’s HP Byron Nelson Championship winner Sang-Moon Bae, 2012 Colonial champ Zach Johnson and 2012 Nelson winner Jason Dufner at 7:33 a.m. Thursday (No. 10 tee) and 12:33 p.m. Friday (No. 1); and Rickie Fowler, Charl Schwartzel and Davis Love III at 12:33 p.m. Thursday (No. 1) and 7:33 a.m. Friday (No. 10).

First pitch

Dallas resident and PGA Tour rookie Jordan Spieth threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday’s Rangers game. On Twitter, Spieth said “Going for the heater so lets hope it finds the glove before the dirt #stoked.”

Staff writer Jimmy Burch and correspondent Kevin Casas contributed to this report.

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