Pádraig insists PGA Tour must play by the rules

Pádraig Harrington last night refused to pour more fuel on the fire of controversy surrounding Rory McIlroy’s Honda Classic walk-out.

But he did call for the PGA Tour to drop its opposition to the anchoring ban or risk making golf’s governing bodies irrelevant and potentially scupper plans to roll back the ball and the driver.

The Dubliner has never failed to complete a round in 18 years on Tour, even when suffering from agonising neck injuries. But when asked his view on the world No 1’s shock withdrawal last week, he said: “I’ve no comment to make on that.

“What I will say is that if there are 3,000 guys officially ranked in the world rankings there are 2,999 who’d love to be in Rory’s position).”

McIlroy was scheduled to give a media conference at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral today where he was expected to explain exactly why he walked off the course after completing just eight holes last Friday.

But that’s now been postponed until tomorrow and talk will turn briefly to the European Tour’s official announcement that it supports plans by the R&A and the USGA to outlaw anchoring the putter to the body.

Harrington is in favour of the ban and can’t understand why the PGA Tour is taking a stance against the proposal, favouring a minority of players, when it didn’t oppose the ban on square grooves that severely affected him when it was introduced in 2009.

“A number of the significant shots that were hit that caused disquiet were hit my me,” said Harrington, who claims his inability to generate as much spin costs him a shot per round.

“I knew the groove ban was to my detriment but I also knew that it was for the betterment of the game. I can’t see the difference between this and the groove rule except the groove rule was far harder to implement than the putter rule.

“I have no idea how you can say there is a difference between this rule and the groove rule”

The PGA Tour has declared it is against the proposed ban on anchoring long and belly putters following Major wins by Ernie Els, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley.

But Harrington reckons that if the PGA Tour goes its own way on the rules, it could mean chaos and the end of the R&A and the USGA as relevant rules-making bodies.

He said: “The PGA Tour represents a very small minority of golfers in the world but they do have a big influence. They are like a big lobbyist in Washington and they have a big say in the matter .

“But ultimately, if professional golfers were to decide the rules of golf, we would get free drops out of divots and we would be able to tap down spike marks.

“It’s a small group who could influence the governing bodies in such a way that when they want to pare back the golf ball and the driver — and I have seen the testing for that stuff — this basically sterilises them.

“If the R&A and the USGA are stopped from changing this rule, their functionality is extremely hindered going forward. That’s how big a deal it is.”


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