PGA Tour vs USGA…Round 1

by Jeff Skinner

When Tim Finchem used the WGC Match Play as a forum for his “anti-ban” announcement he accomplished two things.  He stole the spotlight away from champion Matt Kuchar and he ignited a firestorm they could have used on Wednesday to melt the snow that covered Dove Mountain.

Finchem has thrown gasoline on a fire that was only smoldering but has now exploded into a fireball.

Golf Week’s Alex Miceli called Finchem’s remarks “The biggest volley yet in the anchoring debate”  and says “What started as a proposed rule change has intensified into a showdown between golf heavyweights: the USGA in one corner versus the PGA Tour and PGA of America in the other.”

Bob Harig of ESPN says the USGA and the R&A were “body slammed” by Finchem.  “What once appeared to be a gimme putt change has turned into a rallying cry against the United States Golf Association and the R&A, the game’s two rules-making bodies that were slammed to golf’s hallowed turf on Sunday when PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said that he and his circuit are against the proposed ban.”

Mike Purkey of Global Golf Post thinks, “If the Tour refuses to accept the anchored putting ban, a different kind of bifurcation could exist-a wide gulf between the best players in the world and everyone else.”

The crew at Golf.com/SI have varied takes on Finchem’s missive but all are sure this is going to get stickyMichael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The USGA has the game’s soul in mind here. The PGA Tour, understandably, cares about fairness to those who are using it and matters of the wallet, too.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The tour is protecting its property, that is, its star players who use anchored putting. This opposition, plus the PGA of America’s anti-ban position, will have to make the USGA and R&A reconsider whether the ban is doable.

 Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It’s a sad day. The blue coats have made mistakes but their motivation has always been to protect the game. All Finchem cares about is protecting the Porsche money of a couple dozen yippy journeymen. This is a troubling precedent and, much like the Citizens United court decision, its ugly impact will only become more obvious over time.

The European PGA Tour has said it will support the ban and that may just make this more nasty.  James Corrigan of The Telegraph says the Americans have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.  The American players are spoiling for a fight and, unless the governing bodies back down over the forthcoming weeks before the law is ratified, they will seriously consider ignoring the new rule if and when it is introduced in 2016. How Europe reacts could be critical in the debate.”

Even Colin Montgomerie says “this has opened up a whole new can of worms.”

Indeed it does Monty, indeed it does.


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