Acushnet chief says technology debate healthy

Acushnet chief says technology debate healthy

NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Acushnet chief Wally Uihlein believes the relationship between manufacturers and ruling bodies is “180 degrees improved” from where it was 20 years ago.

That doesn’t mean the two sides do not – nor should not – disagree on technology issues.

“I really think we need to let the ruling bodies define the issues and the manufacturers, in the spirit of those ruled upon, need to continue to provide the tension, which ensures the dialogue is open and progressive,” Uihlein said.

He spoke last week at the Bay Club, where he introduced Acushnet’s new ownership, a Korean consortium called Alexandria Holdings. The new Acushnet chairman is Gene Yoon, who said that all operations at Acushnet’s headquarters of Fairhaven, Mass., will stay the same.

The debate between tradition and technology has been around more than a century, and that is not likely to change. Uihlein said he can make an argument “for or against bifurcation” – different equipment rules for pros and amateurs – although that should not be an agenda that any manufacturer could promote.

“We still have a commercial genesis to that thought process,” he said. “We can’t argue that we have the best interest in the game. We can make that argument, but the fact is we represent the commercial landscape. And so, it doesn’t matter how noble our argument is. It’s still going to be seen as to some degree commercially prejudiced.”

Uihlein said it’s up to the R&A and the USGA to not only set the rules, but to assume greater responsibility in the game’s future.

“If not, who does?” he said. “There’s always going to be that question of whose game is it, and who’s responsible for its perpetuation and sustenance.”

PRESIDENTS CUP: Brandt Snedeker has made the biggest jump without winning in the FedEx Cup playoffs, going from No. 18 to No. 5 with a tie for third at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship. He also has made a swift climb in the U.S. standings for the Presidents Cup, and now is only the equivalent of $28,016 behind David Toms at No. 10.

There was some movement in Boston, but not enough to clarify everything. The top 10 players earn spots on the U.S. team before Fred Couples doles out his captain’s pick (one already goes to Tiger Woods).

Jim Furyk finished sixth, moving him up to No. 9 – but he is only $15,809 ahead of Toms, and $43,825 ahead of Snedeker (each dollar counts two points in the standings). Toms is $28,016 ahead of Snedeker – that’s how much 44th place earns at the BMW Championship, which is the last qualifying event.

Charles Howell III at No. 23 is as low as anyone on the list with a mathematical chance of qualifying.

Rickie Fowler might have hurt his chances the most. He started the final round only three shots out of the lead, but closed with a 77 and tied for 52nd, leaving behind big points. He now is $700,287 behind the 10th spot and would have to finish alone in second or win at the BMW Championship to assure playing his way onto the team.

BELLY BLUNDER: Brandt Jobe has been so frustrated with his putting over the last few months that he stopped having fun. It reached a point at the Deutsche Bank Championship that he decided to use a belly putter in the third round.

This is nothing new for Jobe, who briefly used a belly putter some five years ago. But it had been so long that he didn’t want to make a full commitment, so he kept two putters in the bag for the third round – his belly putter and the conventional model.

“I’ve been hitting it real good and putting so bad that the last month hasn’t been fun,” Jobe said. “It was getting to the end of the year and I had nothing to lose, but I didn’t want to shoot 80 if it didn’t go well.”

With an extra putter, something had to give to stay at the 14-club limit, so he removed his 4-iron.

Bad move.

“I needed a 4-iron four times today,” Jobe said, laughing at himself.

He figured he would use his hybrid off a couple of tees, and he was counting on the tee at par-3 11th being a 3-iron. But the wind shifted and Jobe was stuck. He used 3-iron on the par-3 eight and went long, and 5-iron on the 11th and came up short.

Even more comical was the belly putter, and his caddie’s reaction.

On the first three holes, Jobe missed a birdie putt from about 15 feet, a par putt from 6 feet and he three-putted his third hole. He drove the green at No. 4, and his caddie handed him the short putter.

“I said, ‘What are you doing? No, we’re going to stick it out,'” Jobe said. “And we made eagle.”

WORLD CUP: The Presidents Cup could feature about 18 of the top 50 players in the world ranking on Nov. 17-20 in Melbourne.

The World Cup is the following week in China, and it could have just as many.

An event that seemed to be losing top players – particularly from America – is attracting one of its strongest fields. Six of the two-man teams have both players currently in the top 50 in the world, while Northern Ireland (Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell) and South Africa (Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen) have two major champions.

The United States offers its strongest team in nearly 10 years by sending Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland. The defending champion from 2009 is Italy with Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, while England again puts up a strong tandem of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

Then there’s Denmark, with Anders Hansen and Thomas Bjorn both inside the top 30.

Five players from Australia passed on the opportunity to play until Richard Green accepted a spot. Then again, the World Cup is the same week as the Australian PGA Championship, and comes right in the heart of the Australasian Tour schedule.

DIVOTS: Starting in 2014, the British Open will move away from holding final local qualifying at links courses near where the Open is held that year. Instead, the four qualifiers will be held at four courses each year in three parts of England (Hillside, Woburn and Royal Cinque Ports) and Scotland (Glasgow-Gailes). The R&A said the change is to make it more convenient for players to qualify. … Patrick Cantlay has won the Mark H McCormack Medal as the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of the amateur summer season. He secured that spot with his runner-up finish in the U.S. Amateur. Cantlay had been No. 1 for the previous 13 weeks. Cantlay will receive his award this week at the Walker Cup in Scotland. … The LPGA Tour has launched an official Korean version of its website that will feature live scoring, player information and enhanced blogs with special Korean content. The LPGA already has a website geared toward the Japanese audience.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Ten players on the PGA Tour already have earned more than $2 million this year without winning a tournament.

FINAL WORD: “The season is so condensed that it’s a weird feeling. It’s early September and it feels like October.” – Brandt Jobe, competing in his first FedEx Cup playoffs.

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