CHICAGO — Rocco Mediate, Jeff Sluman and Chip Beck all expect decision day to become doomsday.
The USGA on Tuesday morning will announce its final decision on whether to ban anchored putting, and all indications are the ruling will draw jeers from the likes of recent major winners Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley — plus Mediate, Sluman and Beck.
Speaking Monday at media day for the Encompass Championship, the June 21-23 Champions Tour event at North Shore Country Club that will bring senior golf back to the Chicago area, Sluman said: “I’ve tried it every way — long, belly and cross-handed — and I can miss ‘em all. You still have to read it right, start it right and have the right speed. But I do think they will ban it, unfortunately.”
Sluman favors the belly putter, while Mediate has gone conventional since 2009. But he was the first player to win a PGA Tour event with a long putter at the 1991 Doral-Ryder Open.
“I went to it because of my back, and it helped me,” he said, “but I certainly didn’t make more putts. As long as you have to move it back and through and you need the ball to go where you’re looking, it ain’t easier.
“It looks funny and it’s obviously not traditional, but what is now? The ball is faster than ever, the courses are 97,000 yards long and everybody is hitting driver and wedge (to the greens). If I was betting, I’d say they’re going to dump the whole thing. … They should have made it illegal in ’91 if they were going to do it.”
Not all players are opposed to a ban. World No. 1 Tiger Woods has been an outspoken proponent of outlawing anchoring.
“I hope they go with the ban,” Woods reiterated at a news conference Monday. “And as far as the PGA Tour, I hope they do it as soon as possible. I’ve always felt that you should have to … control your nerves and swing all 14 clubs, not just 13.”
A USGA ban wouldn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2016.
The PGA Tour and PGA of America have come out against a ban, at least for now. But USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said in November that anchoring the club against one’s body “alters the nature of the challenge … the essence of playing has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball.”
Said Sluman: “Statistically it’s not an advantage, and it can’t be an advantage because anyone can do it.”
For now, anyway.
Distributed by MCT Information Services