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Rory putts pressure on PGA

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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy reacts after hitting out of the rough on the 17th fairway in the first round against Shane Lowry, of Ireland, during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Marana, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy reacts after hitting out of the rough on the 17th fairway in the first round against Shane Lowry, of Ireland, during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Marana, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy reacts after hitting out of the rough on the 17th fairway in the first round against Shane Lowry, of Ireland, during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Marana, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

WORLD No 1 Rory McIlroy has urged the PGA Tour to back whatever decision the game's governing bodies reach over the thorny issue of banning the anchoring of long putters.

McIlroy's comments came two days after PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem cited the lack of data detailing specific advantages in anchoring and the 40-year history of long putters as the main reasons not to back the proposal.

"We've trusted this game of golf; we've put it in the hands of the R&A and the USGA for I don't know how many years, and we've always abided by the rules that they have set," McIlroy told a news conference yesterday at PGA National, site of this week's Honda Classic.

"I don't think this should be any different. I think golf is pretty good at the minute and it's in good hands."

Last November, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R&A) proposed a ban on players anchoring putters to their body, saying they wanted to outlaw the practice by 2016 to help preserve the "skill and challenge" of putting.

Players and the golfing community were then given 90 days to discuss the proposal, a period which concludes at the end of this month. Finchem was far from clear over what would happen if the proposed change was implemented against the PGA Tour's wishes. "Our regulations provide that we will follow the rules as promulgated by the USGA provided," said Finchem.

"However, we retain the right not to in certain instances if we see fit."

The USGA responded on Monday, saying that its 90-day comment period remains in place and that they expect to make a decision in the coming months.

The European Tour has not yet made a statement on the issue but it has been suggested that it was not looking for a conflict with the rule-making bodies.

 

Pressure

While McIlroy has been in favour of a change he said he would not have a problem if pressure from the PGA Tour resulted in a climb down from the governing bodies. "If it were up to me I would just (follow) whatever decision the USGA comes to... maybe the pressure that the PGA Tour has put on them might change their minds and (make them) rethink. And if they do that, then that's totally fine with me," said McIlroy.

McIlroy also agreed with Colin Montgomerie, who warned on Monday that Finchem risked dividing the sport. "Monty said this divide isn't good for golf, and I don't think it is. I think we all need to be on one side or the other," he said.


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