Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:24 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:38 am

MMSC: Examining the weekend in golf

Phil Mickelson celebrates his birdie on the 18th hole this past weekend with Keegan Bradley. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon 

Golf is probably the hardest sport in the world to play, and play well, so it makes total sense that everyone is a critic, and that’s what we’re going to do here at Monday Morning Swing Coach. Cover just the PGA Tour? Nope. We're going to try to expand this Monday feature to anything and everything that happened the past weekend. 

Who needed Sunday’s playoff win the most?

Sunday at Riviera, the 2012 PGA Tour season continued its incredible start by pitting three big names in a playoff most thought wouldn’t happen after second shots from the final group found the 72nd green. 

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley brought major-like intensity when they both drained improbable putts to force a playoff against already-clubhoused Bill Haas, the eventual winner when he cashed a similar crazy birdie putt on the second playoff hole. 

So we know Haas won, Mickelson and Bradley lost, but looking back, who needed the win more? 

Why not start with the champion. Haas is one of those quiet players you just know is good. No matter if at times he gets down on his own game, we’ve seen him pull off shots in his last two wins that could make a career, and any son of a PGA Tour star always has that monkey on his back to beat the legacy of his dad. 

Haas needed the win because he keeps winning. This is his third consecutive  year with a PGA Tour title, and he did it quietly against the hottest golfer to date (yes, that would be Mickelson, who ran away with Pebble and looked like he’d go back-to-back if not for some shaky putting to end his Sunday round) and a young guy who just doesn’t seem like he will be a flash in the pan. 

I think Haas needed to win that just to show people that he is damn good. Like, "One of the Best Players on Tour" good. He can and most likely will win a major. He could win three times a season and you wouldn’t be shocked. He showed Sunday that no matter the competition, if he sticks to his game, things turn out well.

Now we turn our focus to Phil. It was a strange week for Mickelson. He started out hot. Needed some eagle magic to keep his charge at back-to-back wins going, and decided at the most critical time in the tournament to forget the speed of the quick Riviera greens (three putts on No. 14 and 15 and a birdie putt on 17 that was dead center but a roll short). 

Mickelson doesn’t really need any more regular-season PGA Tour wins. If he wins, awesome. Free fuel for the 'copter. More sunglasses for the wife. More ridiculous animal-skinned belts to loop around his belly. I think Phil exits these tournaments either happy or sad, and winning isn’t exactly what does that for him. 

His reaction when Bradley matched his birdie on the final hole of regulation shows why he has so many fans. He was so pumped up when he dropped his 30-footer (honestly, the most excited he has ever been on a golf course? I think the walking fist pump was more exclamatory than his horizontal jump at the Masters), but to go over and high-five Bradley after his answered? That was great stuff. For Phil, the only thing that is going to get his legacy deeper is majors, but it would have been fun to see him go back-to-back. That said, he is still in great shape to be the favorite at Augusta, and should be if he continues this. 

No, the answer to my question is Bradley. Yes, he has two PGA Tour wins and yes, one of those was a major, but I think if he would have pulled out this win on Sunday, against one of his idols and a really talented player in a tough playoff, it would have meant more to him than winning the PGA Championship. Yes, you can re-read that, it’s true. 

Winning the PGA was career-making. He will forever be a major winner. He gutted out some birdies when it counted. But I bet it takes you at least 15 seconds to think about who he beat in that playoff (got it yet? It was Jason Dufner, and that was just six months ago). 

If Bradley’s putt on the first playoff hole had just a little less speed, we’d be sitting here talking about a guy that has three wins in under a year and has been on tour for just 13 months. The kid is for real, and a win there would have been enormous for him going forward not just in 2012, but in the coming years after that. 

Now, about all the other Bradley stuff ...

The dancing and spitting has to stop 

I know that slow play has been a huge issue the last few years on the PGA Tour. During final rounds, Twitter is basically one big complaint about the pace of play by just about every golf writer out there (which, by the way, just makes complaining about it as annoying as the actual snail pace these guys go about it). 

But Bradley’s little diddy he does before shots, and the spitting routine he has adopted, is really getting under people’s skin, and for good reason. 

No, I’m not going to sit here and preach about it being a gentleman’s game. Golf is a little different and still old school and that’s why I think certain companies aimed at making it younger aren’t ever going to work out (the golf money is older), but you can’t take 17 practice swings before a shot and expect to get away with it. 

Bradley is going to get the Sergio treatment soon if he keeps this up, and it has been going on for a WHILE now. He steps up ... stops ... realigns ... goes at the ball ... stops ... resets. It’s agonizing to watch as a golf fan, just a step lower than when you watched Jean Van de Velde start taking his shoes off at the 1999 British Open. 

The preshot routine needs to quiet down, but the spitting needs to go away now. It’s unnecessary and makes him look like an immature kid.

Yani, Yani, Yani

I’m going to drop in Tweets of the Week here at MMSC when I see fit, and I think this one from LPGA’s Jane Park says it all ...

Tseng is a machine, and how do you know she’s a machine? Because she has reevaluated how she approaches the media after a year SHE WON 12 TOURNAMENTS WORLDWIDE! If I ever had 20 percent of that season I’d probably wear the same underwear to every tournament and she has figured out some ways to improve? Incredible.

Her win this week against a talented field shows that, and we should expect much of the same for the rest of 2012. Don’t be shocked if she gets to 12 fairly late in the summer and piles on. We have seen women’s golf dominated before by big names. I’m starting to think this could be the one that eclipses all those before. 

And what I did this weekend ... 

I was in New Zealand this weekend caddying for a friend of mine playing in the New Zealand Open, and while she played great considering she’s coming back from a year off the tour because of a thumb surgery, it was our house guest that got me the most nervous. 

Alison Walshe, a friend who played at the same college I attended, stayed with us and the entire week was a social experiment for me. It was the first time I could SEE in a person that they expected to succeed. All week she just looked like she had the thing in the bag, and this is coming from a girl that has never won on the Ladies European Tour or LPGA. 

She played well the first round. Tied for the lead the second, and as we were finishing up our round on the front nine, Walshe was coming down 18 needing a birdie to possibly force a playoff (the eventual winner was in the fairway behind her, needing a birdie to get to 10-under and win outright). 

I write about this because I finally get the nerves you see with tour wives and families when they’re watching their loved one with a putt to win. One of the other caddies actually remarked about my pacing and fidgeting because I was so nervous for my friend, who hit an absolutely incredible chip (think Mickelson’s second shot on the second playoff hole, only if the grass was muddy) to six feet and then rolled in the birdie putt to put herself in a position to get into a playoff.

Sure, Lindsey Wright made a lengthy birdie putt a few minutes later for the victory, but it was exciting and a new experience to see someone you know and care about go through the clutch motions and come out successful. I’m confident now you’ll see Walshe holding a trophy before the year is over. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Steve Elling on Twitter.

Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:49 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:36 am

Lefty tops early U.S. Ryder points list

By Steve Elling

In the first of what, henceforth, will be weekly updates issued every Monday, here are the updated Ryder Cup standing for both teams as of Feb. 19.

Remember, the U.S. takes the top eight off the points list, then adds four captain's picks at a later date. The Europeans take 10 players off a combined list from two metrics. The players in bold below are the ones who would make the team of the matches were held today.

See the fine print below for further illumination.

U.S. Ryder Cup Points
Through Northern Trust Open

1 Phil MICKELSON  2,637.074
2 Keegan BRADLEY  2,386.217
3 Bill HAAS  1,878.471
4 Kyle STANLEY 1,872.053
5 Steve STRICKER  1,683.076
6 Johnson WAGNER  1,654.298
7 Brandt SNEDEKER  1,628.962
8 Dustin JOHNSON  1,337.902
9 Mark WILSON  1,239.250
10 Jason DUFNER  1,174.477
11 Ben CRANE  1,016.850
12 Robert GARRIGUS  870.060
13 Kevin NA  828.116
14 Webb SIMPSON  781.669
15 Harrison FRAZAR  767.710
16 Bo VAN PELT  764.776
17 John ROLLINS  745.168
18 Spencer LEVIN  741.589
19 D.A. POINTS  689.043
20 Bubba WATSON  688.183
21 David TOMS  662.000
22 Ricky BARNES  635.894
23 Jimmy WALKER  587.963
24 Jonathan BYRD  560.400
25 Ryan PALMER  545.949

European Team Ryder Cup Points
Through the Avantha Masters

1   Rory MCILROY (NIR)  1,530,341.11
2   Martin KAYMER (GER)  1,352,071.56
3   Gonzalo FDEZ-CASTAÑO (ESP)  1,179,920.64
4   Paul LAWRIE (SCO)  1,162,631.62
5   Alvaro QUIROS (ESP)  1,064,673.10
6  Sergio GARCIA (ESP)  1,035,941.90
7  Peter HANSON (SWE)  832,783.06
8  Graeme MCDOWELL (NIR)  791,593.45
9  Rafael CABRERA-BELLO (ESP)  787,728.63
10 Michael HOEY (NIR)  771,474.92
11 Joost LUITEN (NED)  745,781.45
12 Thomas BJÖRN (DEN)  714,643.55
13 Robert ROCK (ENG)  658,747.08
14 Grégory HAVRET (FRA)  587,359.34
15 Miguel Angel JIMÉNEZ (ESP)  586,451.36
16 Simon DYSON (ENG)  573,820.37
17 Richie RAMSAY (SCO)  572,666.34
18 David LYNN (ENG)  550,482.02
19 Tom LEWIS (ENG)  493,202.92
20 Lee WESTWOOD (ENG)  491,828.86
21 Fredrik JACOBSON (SWE)  473,747.38
22 Marcel SIEM (GER)  463,995.83
23 Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL)  459,948.35
24 Luke DONALD (ENG)  446,771.67
25 Francesco MOLINARI (ITA)  440,037.15

European Team World Points
1  Rory MCILROY (NIR) 181.68
2  Luke DONALD (ENG) 134.58
3  Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 131.23
4  Martin KAYMER (GER) 121.89
5  Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 110.39
6  Paul LAWRIE (SCO) 106.57
7  Gonzalo FDEZ-CASTAÑO (ESP) 103.05
8  Justin ROSE (ENG) 96.06
9  Graeme MCDOWELL (NIR) 88.43
10 Thomas BJÖRN (DEN) 86.7
11 Rafael CABRERA-BELLO (ESP) 84.18
12 Peter HANSON (SWE) 83.23
13 Simon DYSON (ENG) 81.28
14 Robert ROCK (ENG) 79.4
15 Joost LUITEN (NED) 71.98
16 Alvaro QUIROS (ESP) 69.92
17 Michael HOEY (NIR) 66.15
18 Fredrik JACOBSON (SWE) 63.8
19 Paul CASEY (ENG) 61.09
20 David LYNN (ENG) 55.04
21 Ian POULTER (ENG) 52.39
22 Grégory HAVRET (FRA) 51.74
23 Marcel SIEM (GER) 48.38
24 Francesco MOLINARI (ITA) 47.19
25 Richie RAMSAY (SCO) 46.98

U. S. Ryder Cup Qualifications (Captain Davis Love III)
The United States points system will determine the top eight players for the 2012 United States Ryder Cup Team on August 12, 2012. In addition, Captain Davis Love III selects four players on Sept.4, 2012 in New York City, to complete the United States Team.  Points are based upon the following:
• Prize money earned in the 2011 major championships (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship): One point is awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
• Prize money earned in 2012 "Official" events from Jan. 1 through Aug. 12: One point is awarded for every $1,000 earned, excluding the major championships, events played opposite major championships and events played opposite World Golf Championships; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
• Prize money earned for the 2012 major championships: (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship). Two points are awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
• Prize money earned in 2012 events played opposite the major championships and opposite World Golf Championship events between Jan. 1 and the PGA Championship, Aug. 12 - one-half point will be awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.

European Ryder Cup Team Qualifications (Captain José María Olazábal)
The European Team will be selected employing the following criteria:
• The leading five players on The Ryder Cup European Points List (1) at the conclusion of the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. In the event of a tie (equal number of points accumulated), placings will be decided by the player with the higher ranking on The 2012 Race to Dubai at the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
• The leading five players, not otherwise qualified (having selected the five players from The Ryder Cup European Points List) from The Ryder Cup World Points List (2) at the conclusion of the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.  In the event of a tie (equal number of points accumulated), placings will be decided by the player with the higher ranking on the Official World Golf Ranking.
• The Captain, José María Olazábal, will choose the remaining two players following the conclusion of the 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship on Monday, Aug. 27 at Gleneagles.
1. The Ryder Cup European Points List will comprise points (1 point = 1 Euro) earned by a European Tour Member from all officially sanctioned European Tour tournaments on The European Tour Race to Dubai from September 1, 2011 until the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2012.
2. The Ryder Cup World Points List will comprise World Ranking Points won by a European Tour Member from each tournament in which he participates from September 1, 2011 until the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2012. World Ranking Points are allocated to all officially sanctioned tournaments (on any Federated Tour) by the Official World Golf Ranking and are allocated according to the Event Rating of the tournament.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Steve Elling on Twitter.  

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:03 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 9:56 pm

Welcome to Eye on Golf

Tiger Woods pumps his fist at the 2010 Masters. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon 

I just spent the last three weeks of my life on the road with a bunch of women golfers, some you may have heard of, so you may not have, caddying for a friend in the hopes that a story would come from it. I was at the Gold Coast of Australia, the “Jersey Shore” of the Southern Hemisphere, Melbourne, a beautiful, expensive place that made me feel like Canucks fans might spill out of the bars, and Christchurch, New Zealand, a place once so beautiful that has been so devastated by earthquakes that you drive around downtown with your jaw agape, wondering why we silly Americans didn’t know more about it. 

And between pints and bags and birdies and bogeys, a story did come from it, which parallels with my new move over here to CBS. 

Yes, I will now be with you full-time for the foreseeable future, bringing you golf news and stories and reviews and (occasional) jokes that hopefully make you enjoy the site enough to return. That’s the thing I understood during the second round of my final leg of this looping session. The relationship between player and caddie is very similar to the relationship between writer and reader. 

There are things about caddying that make you appreciate things. It makes you appreciate trust. Makes you appreciate honesty. Friendship. Strangely, for me, it makes me appreciate my dad. The man has carried my bag plenty of times, and now I understand how much he must have hidden how painful it was during the days I didn’t play well, not for him, but for me. The flat looks weren't because he was disappointed in me, it was because he felt for me. He wanted me to play better for me, not for him. It’s why I texted him the afternoon after Irene had her worst round of the trip. I appreciate what my dad did all those times when the bag was a little more heavy than it should have been. He wasn’t just carrying the clubs. He was carrying me along with it. 

My goal here is going to be very similar to what I’ve been dealing with the last 24 days. I’m going to try to keep you entertained. Try to keep your mind off the rest of your real life. Bring you some insight and knowledge, and maybe, just maybe, it will make your day, just like a golf round, a little better. I might not be able to carry you the same way my dad graciously did during junior golf rounds that had a few too many squares, but I sure will try. 

No, we aren’t going to split the atom on the Eye of Golf blog. Honestly, we are writing about a game that we all love one minute and hate the next. We will probably write a little too much about Tiger Woods (I apologize now), not enough about people like Yani Tseng and Cristie Kerr (but my goal is to change that) and there will be things you love and hate. C’est la vie, right? 

But by the end of the day, like that golf round that just isn’t going smoothly, I hope things will always end on a high note. 

I’m excited about the move. I’m excited about some of the features we have. I’m excited about the interviews we have coming up and the reviews we will bring you. But the thing I’m most excited about is you guys. You’re the people that give me a job. You’re the readers we are trying to impress. And that’s why I want an open communication. I won’t beg you to follow me on Twitter (enough people do that already), but if you need something, you know where to find me. Let me know what you like and don’t like. Think there is a gapping hole in all this golf coverage that you think we could fill? All our Internet ears are open. 

The golf journalism community is a close one. I have been friends with Ryan Ballengee since before he started killing it at NBC and The Golf Channel. Jay Busbee gave me an opportunity that I never thought I’d have, and will continue to be a dear friend for years to come. Along with that I’ve got to meet some incredible voices, from the up and coming Jonathan Wall to the late Vince Spence. We are all trying to do this thing together, and I’m sure we will continue to make this place a must-bookmark if you’re a golfer with an iPhone. 

So tee it up! Club right, and all those other terrible golf cliches. The round will be a fun one, just as long as you don’t mind my occasional miss-clubbings. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Steve Elling on Twitter. 

Category: Golf
Tags: Shane Bacon
Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:56 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:48 pm

Casey shoulder injury forces match-play exit

By Steve Elling 

Even with easy money and scads of world ranking points on offer just for showing up, injured Paul Casey on Thursday elected to withdraw from the season’s first World Golf Championships event next week outside Tucson, Ariz.

Casey, who dislocated a shoulder in a holiday snowboarding accident, visited his doctor in Phoenix on Wednesday and the exam results were mixed, so Casey elected to withdraw Thursday from the Accenture Match Play to give replacement George Coetzee extra chance to get to the event site in timely fashion.

Casey, 34, has twice finished second in the Accenture event and is a past winner at the European Tour’s match-play tournament. Coetzee, ranked No. 66 in the world, is South African and will be making his first Accenture appearance. The field is limited to 64 players.

“He wanted to give Coetzee time to get there,” swing coach Peter Kostis said.

Until the moment he received the updated physician’s report on Thursday, Kostis was optimistic that his top pupil would be green-lighted by doctors this week, but it now appears that Casey will remain in rehab mode until the next WGC event, at Doral, in three weeks.

Casey, a former world No. 3 who has battled a series of injuries over the past three seasons, fell while snowboarding over Christmas break in Vail, Colo.

Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:46 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:49 pm

Tiger's pairing pummelling by Phil not his worst

By Steve Elling

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gotta admit, this came as rather surprising news.

When Phil Mickelson slaughtered Tiger Woods by 11 strokes in the final round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday, blowing past the former world No. 1 like he was an unproven rookie, it wasn't even the worst head-to-head beat-down of Woods' career.

Or even of the past two years.

It was, however, the most lopsided score imbalance in a final round in Woods' considerable PGA Tour experience.

Mickelson started the final round six shots off the pace on Sunday, and after six holes, has already taken a two-stroke lead, leaving playing partner Woods and everybody else behind. For Woods, only twice before had he been whacked more brusquely by a playing partner.

Courtesy of former ABC Sports golf statistician Sal Johnson of, here are the gory details of Woods' most lopsided blowouts by a pairings mate.

Wells Fargo Championship
Second round
Paired with Angel Cabrera, who shot 67, while Tiger shot 79
12 shots


Tour Championship
First round
Paired with Vijay Singh, who shot 63, while Tiger shot 75
12 shots

Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Final round
Paired with Phil Mickelson, who shot 64, while Tiger shot 75
11 shots

PGA Championship
First round
Paired with Davis Love, who shot 68, while Tiger shot 77
9 shots


PGA Championship
First round
Paired with Vijay Singh, who shot 67, while Tiger shot 75
8 shots

Greater Milwaukee Open
Third round, paired with Woody Austin, who shot 65, while Tiger shot 73
8 shots
Posted on: February 11, 2012 8:17 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:49 pm

Tiger and Phil, yin and yang, paired at Pebble

By Steve Elling 

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Who are these guys, Abbott and Costello? Hall and Oates? Peanut and butter?

Break 'em up as a team and they mostly flop?

As we all know painfully too well at this point, Tiger Woods has been missing in action for more than two years, and in that span, his nemesis Phil Mickelson didn’t do much of anything.

In fact, over his last 37 PGA Tour starts, dating to his victory at the 2010 Masters, and as he freely admits, hasn’t exactly used the door that Woods left wide open when his personal and physical issues left him sidelined for most of the period since.

Mickelson not only didn’t take advantage, he went backward and enters this week's Pebble Beach Pro-Am  in much the same position he's held for his career -- ranked right next to Woods in the world pecking order. It's just that these days, Mickelson is 16th and Woods is 17th.

So, of course, with Woods showing flashing red-light signs that his slump is over, Mickelson picks this week to perk up?

The pair of longtime adversaries, California natives and multiple-time winners at Pebble Beach will be paired in the final round on Sunday at the famous seaside links, with the title in reach for both.

Woods is in third place, four shots behind Charlie Wie, while Mickelson is T4 and six strokes back. Let the jockeying and jocularity begin.

These guys have combined for an incredible 110 career PGA Tour wins -- Woods (71) ranks third and Mickelson (39) is 10th -- but with Woods injured and ailing, and Lefty playing listlessly, they are a mere 1-for-59 in terms of victories in recent U.S. starts.

Neither player knew of the final-day pairings when the left the course after play concluded Saturday night, but here's how they stack up in the times they have been paired in PGA Tour play over their careers. Woods holds a 13-12-4 margin when paired with Lefty, who in recent years has actually played better than the former world No. 1 when grouped eye-to-eye:

Year        Event                            Round   Mickelson     Woods
1997        PGA Championship        Rd 4        75                75       
1997         NEC Invitational             Rd 2        72                72       
1997        TOUR Championship      Rd 2        72                68       
1998        Nissan Open                   Rd 1        67                68
1998        Nissan Open                   Rd 2        76                73
1999        U.S. Open                       Rd 3        73                72       
2000        NEC Invitational              Rd 3        69                67       
2000        Buick Open                     Rd 3        65                67       
2000        TOUR Championship      Rd 1        67                68       
2001        PLAYERS Championship  Rd 3        72                66       
2001        Masters Tournament       Rd 4        70                68       
2002        TOUR Championship       Rd 1        70                71
2002        TOUR Championship      Rd 4        69                70       
2003        Buick Invitational            Rd 4        72                68       
2005        Ford Championship        Rd 4        69                66       
2006        Ford Championship        Rd 3        72                68       
2006        PGA Championship        Rd 1        69                69
2006        PGA Championship        Rd 2        71                68       
2007        Deutsche Bank              Rd 1        70                72
2007        Deutsche Bank              Rd 2        64                64       
2007        Deutsche Bank              Rd 4        66                67       
2008        U.S. Open                      Rd 1        71                72       
2008        U.S. Open                      Rd 2        75                68
2009        Masters Tournament     Rd 4        67                68
2009        WGC-HSBC Champions Rd 4        69                72
2010         BMW Championship     Rd 4        67                70
2011        WGC-Cadillac                Rd 1        73                70
2011         WGC-Cadillac               Rd 2        71                74
2011        WGC-Cadillac                Rd 3        72                70


Posted on: February 8, 2012 7:01 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:49 pm

Here's one ranking Woods is glad not to top

By Steve Elling 

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Here's a No. 1 ranking that Tiger Woods would just as soon yield to somebody else.

In a poll reported this week by Forbes, Woods is tied with NFL quarterback Michael Vick as the nation's most disliked athlete, with each receiving a 60 percent disapproval rating.

Vick was listed first, however, because he got more votes of "dislike a lot" from respondents than did Woods.

The numbers were compiled by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research. Vick was convicted five years ago of running a dog-fighting ring and served time, while Woods endured a well-chronicled sex scandal and divorce.

NFL receiver Plaxico Burress (56%), NFL defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh (51%), NBA players Kris Humphries (50%), Lebron James (48%) and Kobe Bryant (45%), NFL receiver Terrell Owens (45%), MLB infielder Alex Rodriguez (44%) and NASCAR driver Kurt Busch (42%).

Category: Golf
Tags: forbes, tiger, vick
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:56 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:50 pm

Harrington calls belly rule change 'inevitable'

By Steve Elling 

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- A day after Tiger Woods all but said that the belly putter should be ruled illegal, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington made a bold prediction.

"Yes, it's inevitable it's going to get changed," he said Wednesday.

Harrington is an ambassador for the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, and whether he's speaking with any insider information here is a bit unclear, but the sentiment seems to be growing that the long putters need to be re-examined.

With a growing number of players using the belly model, and players like Adam Scott resurrecting his career with the broom model, traditionalists like Woods have raised the question of whether the clubs should be banned.

Harrington, playing this week at Pebble Beach, said that if the clubs had recently appeared out of thin air, it's highly unlikely they would have ever been permitted.

"I think at the end of the day, if we started fresh tomorrow and somebody tried to get the belly putter passed, not a chance," he said.

The game's two governing bodies, the USGA and R&A, have indicated they will take a look at the long-putter issue, though banning a device that's been around for a quarter-century sounds like a sticky situation.

Woods advocated a theoretical plan wherein the putter could not be longer than the shortest club in the bag, which would usually be a sand wedge. He envisioned putters being measured for length by comparing them to wedges on the first tee to ensure accordance, and said he had discussed the possible wording of a rule change with Peter Dawson of the R&A on several occasions.

"I definitely hear  and this is not true by connection with the R&A but just true in golf -- there's more players, there's more officials focusing on the belly putter," Harrington said.

Last year, for the first time, a major championship was won by a player using the belly putter.

Woods said Tuesday: "I've never been a fan of it. I believe it's the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. I believe that's how it should be played. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to that."

With 17 majors between Woods and Harrington, not to mention their influence in other areas, that's some pretty heavy artillery on the anti-belly side of the fence.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or