Putter row to rumble on again

THINK very, very carefully before you act – that is the message from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to golf’s ruling bodies.

The Royal and Ancient Club and United States Golf Association knew they would be upsetting lots of players, professional and amateur, when they proposed a ban on anchored putting strokes to come into effect in 2016.

But now they know they will also be upsetting the biggest and richest tour in the world if they go ahead with their plan to outlaw methods that in the last five majors have brought victories for Ernie Els, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley.

Just how serious the PGA Tour is in its opposition is clear not just from what Finchem said, but when he said it.

He went on television during the final of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona rather than waiting until it was over.

Colin Montgomerie was positively aghast at the idea of the PGA Tour ignoring the ban and doing its own thing, although Finchem has not gone that far yet.

‘‘The R&A and USGA have served the game of golf for a long, long time and long may that continue,’’ Montgomerie said.

‘‘This has opened up a whole new can of worms.

“It’s a very dangerous situation we are getting ourselves into and I do hope they can sort this out very, very quickly.

‘‘I thought, as we all did, that the rules of golf were set by the R&A and the USGA.

Tim Finchem has obviously thought otherwise.

‘‘Whether the European Tour think that or not has to be debated too.’’ The European Tour has not sided with the PGA Tour so far, however, with chief executive George O’Grady saying in November: ‘‘I would urge the Tour to follow the rules as laid down by the governing bodies.

‘‘The view of our leading members and our players must be listened to.’’ Montgomerie added: ‘‘I think we should go with what the R&A and USGA feel.

Whether the long putter should have been banned 20 years ago or not, it should be banned now.

‘‘We should abide by that.

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 British Open?

‘‘Does that mean you have to use a different club? Does that mean other rules can change as well?

‘‘We want to play as one under the same rules.’’

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