Sports

Montgomerie sides with R&A and USGA over long putters

Montgomerie wants to see the long putter banned after the PGA Tour came out in support of the controversial club. – Reuters picMontgomerie wants to see the long putter banned after the PGA Tour came out in support of the controversial club. – Reuters pic

LONDON, Feb 26 – Ryder Cup-winning captain and eight-times European Tour number one Colin Montgomerie wants to see the long putter banned after the PGA Tour came out in support of the controversial club on Sunday.

Golf’s governing bodies, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R&A), proposed a ban of anchoring putters to the body in November but PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem disagreed with their stance.

“This has opened up a whole new can of worms,” Montgomerie told Sky Sports yesterday.

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

Finchem said the PGA Tour had informed the two governing bodies of their opinion earlier this month after conducting a thorough review of the proposal and that the R&A and USGA would bring it to “some conclusion” in the next month or two.

“I think we should go with what the R&A and USGA feel,” said Montgomerie, who won the European Tour order of merit for seven straight years from 1993.

“Whether the long putter should have been banned 20 years ago or not, it should be banned now. We should abide by that,” added the Scot, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory in 2010 following a brilliant playing career in the biennial event.

“To now go against that and say ‘my players aren’t going to do that’, then what happens when you come to USGA events or the British Open? Does that mean you have to use a different club? We want to play as one under the same rules.”

South African Ernie Els, who anchors his putter into his belly, won last year’s British Open and three of the last five majors have gone to players using a similar club.

Els, a four-times major champion, said in 2011 after switching to a long putter that he felt their use was “cheating”.

“As long as it’s legal, I’ll cheat like the rest of them,” said Els, who this month said he felt players who used belly putters had no advantage over those with short putters.

Northern Irish world number one Rory McIlroy and 14-times major champion Tiger Woods are among several players who have consistently expressed their opposition to the belly putter and anchoring.

The proposed new rule by the governing bodies, who argue putters should swing freely and not be anchored to any part of the body, would come into force on January 1, 2016. – Reuters