R&A and USGA to announce ruling on long putters today

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GOLFERS using long and belly putters will find out today what action, if any, is going to be taken against them by the game’s 
ruling bodies.

An announcement on the thorny subject is set to be made in a media teleconference being held jointly by the R&A and the USGA at 1:30pm this afternoon.

It will involve R&A chief executive Peter Dawson, his USGA counterpart Mike Davis and their two main rules and equipment experts, David Rickman and Thomas Pagel.

The announcement follows talks between the two bodies on the matter in Turkey in October, while it is also believed to have been discussed again in recent weeks by the R&A in St Andrews.

During the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, Englishman Luke Donald hinted that Dawson and Davis were close to revealing what had been decided. “We’re about to have some fun and games,” said the world No 2, smiling.

If a ban is imposed, it technically can’t come into force until 2016, when the next four-yearly rules review takes place, though it has been suggested it could be introduced in the professional game before then. It has also been claimed that “anchoring” could be what the sport’s rules makers are set to target instead of long putters en masse.

Three of the past five major winners – Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els – used long putters as they recorded those triumphs, and Bradley has hinted he may take legal action against any bid to make him change to a conventional putter.

Speaking earlier this year, Dawson said: “Anchoring is what we’re looking at – method of stroke – and it’s all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether in your belly or under your chin or on your chest.

“It has dramatically increased and we’re also seeing now people who can putt perfectly well in the conventional way thinking that an anchored stroke gives them an advantage. I think that’s the fundamental change that we’ve witnessed in the past couple of years. The objections I find from those at elite level are: ‘If people have become failed putters in the conventional way, why should they have a crutch to come back and compete against me when I haven’t failed in the conventional way?’”