Mickelson opposed to any new ban on the use of long putters
GOLF: Phil Mickelson said yesterday that banning long putters would be “grossly unfair”.
An announcement is expected soon from golf’s ruling bodies – the Royal and Ancient Club and United States Golf Association – after growing concerns about the increasing use of belly and broomhandle putters.
“I understand both sides, it’s just that I don’t think you can take away what you’ve allowed players to use, practise and play with for 30 years,” Mickelson said on the eve of the Barclays Singapore Open.
“I think it is grossly unfair. I also understand that it’s a better way to putt and all young players should start to putt that way as they get older. It’s a more efficient way to putt.
“I am concerned about some amateur players that use it and I don’t want to deter people from the game of golf.”
Tiger Woods has suggested a rule making the putter the shortest club in the bag, but Australian Adam Scott – one of those currently using a long putter – said: “I’m not necessarily sure his views on what the putter should be are correct at all.
“I don’t think the putter should be the shortest club in the bag. That has never been a rule in golf, so I don’t know why it should be now.”
American Keegan Bradley last year became the first player to win a Major with a long putter, but has already been followed by Webb Simpson and Ernie Els. If a ban is introduced it is likely to take effect from the start of 2016.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy spoke yesterday about the need to escape from golf – as he controversially did last week even though a world championship was being played.
The world number one returns to action today and by Sunday night he could have completed the same money-list double on the European and American tours achieved for the first time by Luke Donald last year.
Skipping the HSBC Champions in China did not harm his chances, but it did bring him criticism, especially as he was in the country at the start of the week for a head-to-head with Tiger Woods that was rumoured to have earned each of them a seven-figure sum.
McIlroy, who instead chose to fly to Bulgaria to watch girlfriend Carolina Wozniacki play tennis, said: “It’s a big event, it’s a tough one to miss. I need those weeks where I can just completely escape from this, from my life. I forget where I am, what I do, I’m completely away from it and those weeks are very helpful for me. You see some guys out there, golf is everything, their life – of course it’s my life and I’m very lucky too – but sometimes you need to step away from it. Spending time with Caroline helps me to do that. That’s the biggest challenge for us going forward.
“I’m in the fortunate position where I can dictate where I want to play, what I want to do, where I want to go.”
McIlroy’s lead at the top of the European Order of Merit is over €771,000 and nearest challengers Peter Hanson, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are not playing this week or at next week’s Hong Kong Open, where he is the defending champion.
Unless South African Louis Oosthuizen wins on Sunday to jump into second spot, a third-place finish could see it all done and dusted for McIlroy with two weeks to spare.
Mickelson and Scott, partner Ireland’s Pádraig Harrington in the opening two rounds and the latter is hoping his victory last month in the four-man PGA Grand Slam in Bermuda was a sign of good things to come.
“Winning is a habit,” the Dubliner said. “It was only 36 holes and there were only four players, but still you get the same feelings when you’re coming down the stretch.
Those are the sorts of experiences you want to have as often as possible. It makes winning easier.”