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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
In book, Monty surprised officials haven't banned clubs


LONDON -- Colin Montgomerie has benefited from using a long putter for almost a year but firmly believes that all such clubs should be banned from the game.

The 39-year-old Scot, who first switched to the putter after watching American Fred Couples using one at the Williams World Challenge in California at the end of last year, is surprised the sport's rule-making body has not acted sooner.

"Though it is hardly in my interests to say so, I think that all long putters -- yes, all of them -- should be declared illegal," Montgomerie said in his autobiography The Real Monty, which was launched on Monday.

"Long putters -- be they anchored to the chin, the chest or belly -- all give the player the three pivotal points of two hands and the body rather than just the two hands, Montgomerie said. "You would never be allowed to have a brace that helped to keep your right arm on target when throwing a dart. Nor would you be allowed anything to steady the moving arm in snooker.

"It is extraordinary, to me, that golf officialdom (the Royal and Ancient Golf Club) has not acted on this score."

Montgomerie said he first started thinking about moving to a longer putter when he saw Couples, a fellow traditionalist in the game, benefit from the change last year.

"It was well known that Freddie had been starting to miss the five-footers before he made the switch and I began to think that it might work for me," said Montgomerie, who won his seven consecutive European order of merit titles from 1993 to 1999.

Montgomerie asked Couples during last December's Williams World Challenge what the belly putter was like.

"It's the difference between night and day, but more so," Couples told him.

"Hey, we're not trying to paint pictures here," added the American. "It's about getting the ball into the hole, isn't it?"

Couples lent Montgomerie one of his spare belly putters later that same day and, within seven months, the Scot had witnessed a dramatic improvement in his own performance on the greens.

"When I won my seven orders of merit, I don't think I was ever higher than 40th in the putting stats," he said. "At the time of the Smurfit European Open (in July), I was up to two, with Michael Campbell, that week's winner, the only player ahead of me.

"My improvement was all down to the change of putter, but I still cannot think how we are being allowed to use these longer implements."

The long, or broomhandle, putter, which was pioneered by 2002 European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance amongst others during the early 1980s, has transformed the fortunes of several players who have suffered from the yips -- or the putting twitches.

The long putter, which is tucked under the chin or into the belly, is swung in a pendulum fashion, and crucially makes demands on a different set of small muscles and nerves.