NEWS: Putting Regulations At The Fore Again

Bernhard Langer
Bernhard Langer's putting style has been cleared by the USGA and R&A. (Photo Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images)

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND | If not quite literally, putters seldom fail to rear their heads at an R&A pre-Open media conference and today was no exception. To no-one’s surprise, there was a return to the subject of whether Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron could be anchoring their long putters and thereby breaking the rules.

Steve Eubanks, writing recently for this website, noted, “Camera angles of Langer and McCarron appeared to show the players touching their chests during the stroke, although it was unclear if the hands or clubs were anchored or simply in contact with the players’ shirts.”

With Eubanks commenting that people’s perceptions of what was happening were causing unease in the golfing world, the USGA were moved to produce their own statement, along with one from each of the players concerned.

The USGA said they had seen “no evidence of a player breaching Rule 14-1b.”

Langer, for his part, said that he had been in contact with the USGA and sundry rules officials to check on his putting stroke “and each time I have been assured that my putting stroke is within the Rules of Golf.”  

As for McCarron, he said, “I’d like to emphatically say that I do not anchor my hand, and or club against my body during my putting stroke. … I have never competed dishonestly because I have the utmost respect for the game of golf, and I will continue to represent myself and the sport to the best of my ability.”

Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, confirmed that the USGA and the R&A were as one in being entirely comfortable that the two players in question were abiding by the rules. “I think it’s very important,” he added, “to realise and remember in all of these cases that our rules and our game are based on the integrity and honesty of players and the way that they act. To me, that’s one of the most wonderful things about this sport.”

His final comment, though it is unlikely to stop the subject from being aired, was that the R&A and the USGA had “no intention” of revising the rule in any way.

When Bryson DeChambeau’s name was raised, it was the player’s putter rather than his putting style which was of interest, with the relevant concern one of whether the implement is serving as an alignment tool.

“The equipment standards rules are pretty clear around that,” said Slumbers “and, yes, you can’t have it so you can create an alignment. … Bryson has been talking about that with the United States Golf Association. We have our equipment standards people here who are happy to sit down with him and make sure that there is no problem. And I hope there’s not going to be a problem, because he’s a terrific, young, exciting player.”

If DeChambeau, who won his place at Royal Birkdale via his win in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic last Sunday, hasn’t seen the relevant people already, you can rest assured that he will have done as much before he tees up tomorrow.

RELATED STORY: Slumbers Calls BBC Golf Coverage “Tired and Outdated”



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