Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big Easy hoping USGA doesn't veto long putters

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LOS ANGELES -- With only a few weeks left before a decision on long putters, British Open champion Ernie Els hopes golf officials change their minds.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club have proposed a new rule that would outlaw a stroke in which the club is anchored to the body. Els used a belly putter when he won last summer at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, becoming the third winner in the last five majors to use a belly putter.

"Hopefully, they don't ban it," Els said Wednesday at the Northern Trust Open. "There's no data that really confirms that they have to ban it. If there were 90 per cent of the guys using it, or if the guys using it were top of the putting ranks, guys making more putts from 20 feet, more putts from four feet... give me something to go by to really make me believe that you have to ban it. But I can't see them having a really great way of explaining to me why they would want to ban it."

The topic is so sensitive the governing bodies allowed for a 90-day comment period on the proposed rule. That period is over at the end of the month.

The PGA Tour hasn't said whether it would go along with the rule, which would become effective in 2016.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 14, 2013 D7

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