PGA Tour Confidential: More fallout from belly ban, McDowell wins World Challenge

Keegan Bradley, World Challenge
Bret Hartman / AP
Graeme McDowell earned his first title of 2012, and second career win at the World Challenge.

Van Sickle: Remember, the USGA specifically said they had no evidence to prove that anchored putting was any sort of advantage. They just disagreed philosophically that it was a stroke. So cheating was not even remotely implied.

Hanger: They said it's not cricket, and that's the same as saying they think it's cheating. They want to have it both ways: "Anchored putting is cheating, but we don't think anchored putters are cheaters." It doesn't add up.

Bamberger: Who said anything about cheating? They are making a rule change.

Hanger: They said this thing that people have been doing is against the spirit of the game, against the way it's supposed to be played. They didn't say cheating, but they might as well have. And it's not like the wind-blowing-the-ball-on-the-green ruling; this is something these guys did on every putt for years.

Van Sickle: I thought it was funny that it was not considered traditional golf. How long does it take to create tradition? It's been 32 years since Johnny Miller first used a long putter anchored under his armpit in the 1980 L.A. Open, and 12 years since Azinger kicked off the belly putter. I'd say anchored putting already was a tradition in golf.

Walker: It's like the shot clock in college basketball. It eliminated Dean Smith's four-corners strategy, but we don't view those UNC teams differently.

Hanger: That's a good analogy. But wasn't that more about making the game fun to watch and play than it was about stopping something that gave the players an unfair advantage?

Van Sickle: Again, anchored putting wasn't banned because it gave an unfair advantage. The USGA said it has no idea if it does or doesn't do that. They said it's not a true stroke.

Hanger: They said that because they don't have stats, but this "not a true stroke" stuff is inseparable from the idea that anchoring is an unfair advantage in the minds of those who oppose it.

Van Sickle: I disagree with that, along with anyone stating as a fact that it's an unfair advantage until someone proves that it is.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: If Keegan, Webb and other belly-putting pros win tournaments between now and Jan. 1, 2016, are those victories tainted?

YOUR NO. 1 ISSUE
Ritter: Let's shift away from anchoring but stay with the governing bodies. Many would argue that there are more pressing problems to address in golf. I'm offering you a place at the table for the next meeting of the USGA and the R&A. What's the one issue you'd push to have fixed immediately?

Garrity: Stroke and distance for out of bounds. Unbelievably punitive.

Reiterman: Amen. It's like the pass interference rule in the NFL.

Bamberger: How to come up with a Tour ball.

Van Sickle: I'd push for bifurcation. Recreational golf is shrinking. With separate sets of rules for ams and pros, equipment makers could keep innovating and trying to make the game easier for us hacks. Meanwhile, we could take the edge off the pro game and bring back more of the skill element – a little less distance, balls that curve more, and no need for 8,000-yard courses. Golf equipment has gotten so good that is has equalized ability.

Hanger: I think bifurcation should be on the table. Why not set limits on the pros that don't apply to the rest of us chops? That would help the game in a bunch of ways, not least of which would be reining in the environmental footprint of the game.

Shipnuck: Cargo shorts. They're killing the sport.

Herre: And shirts with no collars – disgraceful.

Wei: White belts for guys over 30.

Dusek: The adoption of a "tour length" ball would solve a lot of issues. Manufacturers could still innovate for the 99%, but the classic courses could be made viable for the 1%. Plus, if the USGA and the R&A are serious about wanting to decrease golf's environmental impact, a shorter-flying Tour ball would mean shorter courses, less water and fewer chemicals.

Walker: What would really help the growth of the game is less expensive equipment, lessons and greens fees.

Dusek: Amen!

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What one issue does the USGA and R&A need to address immediately?

G-MAC CLOSES WITH A WIN
Ritter: Graeme McDowell pulled away from a small but star-studded field to win the World Challenge. G-Mac nearly won two majors this season, but he was winless in 2012 before this title at Sherwood. What's your take on the newly engaged 2010 U.S. Open champ as he heads into next season?

Bamberger: Fast backswing equals streaky player.

Van Sickle: Didn't he tinker with his equipment a bit? That, plus the sudden fame, required a period of adjustment. He's always been a streaky player. When he's in form, he's capable of winning anywhere. He will win more than just one major in his career.

Herre: I love watching him play. So stylish around the greens, and he has a great head. I see him having a big year in 2013.

Shipnuck: He's easy to root for and obviously a tough competitor, but until he fixes some of the fundamental flaws in his swing, he's always going to be prone to the big miss under pressure.

Reiterman: I can't get enough G-Mac. It's going to be hard to match 2010, but I agree he'll win two or three majors in his career.

Godich: I'll withhold judgment. He's won twice at Sherwood and also has a runner-up there. Plus, he's streaky. That can work both ways.

Dusek: It was a good year for G-Mac, and a nice rebound after 2011, so I think he's primed for a very good 2013. It's tough to put too much into his win at Sherwood, but he simply played better all season. In a strange way, I think McIlroy's ascension has helped reduce the pressure and the attention on McDowell, which should help him.

Wei: I can't gauge G-Mac's form going into 2013 based on winning a member-guest, but I guess it's promising and a good boost for his confidence.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will G-Mac be a factor in the majors again next year?

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