Arnold Palmer states case for putter rules
Arnold Palmer strongly stated his case Wednesday that golf
doesn’t need a ”contraption” like the anchored putting stroke and
the sport’s success requires everyone to play by the same
In a wide-ranging press conference at Bay Hill, Palmer said he
supported the proposed rule that would outlaw attaching the club
against the body, which is the method used for long putters and
”That’s not part of the game of golf. To attach it to your body
in any way is taking a little bit away from the game,” Palmer
said. ”I’m not going to argue with anybody about it. I’ve stated
my position, and that is we do not need a contraption to play the
game of golf.
”I would hope that we’d play under one set of rules, and those
rules would include a ban on the long putter hooked to the body in
some way, shape or form.”
The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club
proposed a new rule to ban such a stroke. The PGA Tour and PGA of
America have said they oppose the ban, with PGA Tour commissioner
Tim Finchem saying there is no data to prove there is a competitive
advantage to using the anchored stroke.
Finchem has said he could see a place for different rules in
tournament golf and recreational play, though he has suggested the
anchored stroke might not be one of them. PGA of America president
Ted Bishop has been more forceful, saying in a recent blog that
”bifurcation seems destined” if the rule takes effect in
The USGA and R&A are expected to announce soon whether to
approve the new rule.
The possibility of two sets of rules seemed to agitate Palmer,
who helped golf become popular with the masses a half-century ago
when he won the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open and the British Open.
”I don’t think that golf has a place for two sets of rules,”
Palmer said. ”I think one of the reasons that the game has
progressed in the way that it has over the years is the fact that
the amateurs and the pros all play the same game and they play
under the same set of rules. I feel like that is very, very
important. It may be the key to the future success of the game of
golf, just the fact that there will be one set of rules and we’ll
all play by them.”
Palmer was less serious when it came to Rory McIlroy, who
decided not to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Bay Hill has the strongest field of the year so far among
regular PGA Tour events, though it is missing the No. 1 player.
Palmer had jokingly said that he would break Boy Wonder’s arm if he
didn’t play, and then clarified Wednesday it was only a passing
”I sort of threw a casual fun at him,” Palmer said. ”It was
meant to be funny. I don’t know whether it was or not. I was kind
of kidding when somebody said, `Is he playing?’ And I said, `Well,
if he doesn’t I’m going to break his arm.’ But it was meant in
jest, and it was strictly a passing remark. Frankly, I thought he
was going to play, and I was as surprised as a lot of people when
he decided he was not going to play.”
McIlroy, who made a wholesale switch to Nike in the offseason,
has completed only eight rounds this year. That includes a missed
cut in Abu Dhabi and walking off the course at the Honda Classic at
the turn of his second round. He also lost in the first round of
the Match Play Championship. But after four rounds at Doral – there
is no cut – and a tie for eighth with a closing 65, the 23-year-old
said he would not add a tournament.
He plans to play the Houston Open next week and then go to the
”For some reason, I got it in my mind that he would be playing,
but that obviously is wrong,” Palmer said. ”What his reason or
reasoning is, I don’t know. And I’m not going to worry about
The focus at Bay Hill was on Tiger Woods, who can replace
McIlroy at No. 1 with a victory this week. The number most often
associated with Woods is whether he can reach the record 18 majors
won by Jack Nicklaus.
Palmer said he’s been impressed with what he has seen from Woods
this year, particularly the wins at Torrey Pines and Doral. It
reminds the King of the first time he played golf with Woods during
a practice round at Augusta National.
”I give him a chance to do the record,” Palmer said. ”I
suppose that every year it’s a little more fleeting, however, and
he’ll have to really work hard to keep himself up and keep his
mental attitude if he’s going to do it.”