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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: November 28, 8:59 AM ET
Tiger Woods in favor of anchor ban

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- There have been times throughout his career when Tiger Woods has chosen to remain neutral on various subjects of interest, perhaps choosing to keep his thoughts to himself or maybe not having a strong opinion.

That is certainly not the case with golf's current hot topic, anchored putting.

Woods, clearly, is not in favor of it.

"I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves and having it as a fixed pointed. As I was saying all year, [it's] something that's not in the traditions of the game," Woods said. "We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same. It should be a swinging motion throughout the bag."

Golf's governing bodies cleared the way for a ban anchored putting Wednesday after months of consternation, heightened by three of the past five major championship winners using a belly putter.

Woods' latest comments came Tuesday at Sherwood Country Club, where he will defend his title in this week's World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual. But he has been on record saying he believes a conventional putter should be part of the rules.

Earlier this year, Woods suggested that the putter be no longer than the shortest club in your bag. But golf's governing bodies -- the United States Golf Association and the R&A -- are not banning the putters; you'll still be able to use them, you just can't anchor them.

Whether Woods' earlier comments had any bearing in the debate is unclear, but it is worth noting that over the years, when he has chosen to speak up on issues in the game, something occurs.

Case in point: drug testing. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was clearly against the concept, but soon after Woods was asked about it and said he preferred the tour start testing immediately, a program was put in place. It has been on-going since the summer of 2008.

There have been all manner of comments about anchored putting and its various pros and cons, but Woods makes a good point when it comes to those who believe it should not be allowed.

"I don't know if there's any statistical data about whether or not anchoring the putter does help on a certain range of putts, especially the guys who have gotten the twitches," Woods said.

"One of the things I was concerned about going forward is the kids who get started in the game and starting to putt with an anchoring system. There have been guys who have had success out here, and obviously everyone always copies what we do out here, and that's something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted."

Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open this year, has heard the argument about young people entering the game using long or belly putters. He first started using a belly putter on a whim eight years ago, while he was in college. He was far from desperate on the greens, as many who resorted to such putters have been over the years. He simply found more consistency with it.

But he challenged the notion concerning a lack of nerves in an anchored stroke.

"People have said to me, having a belly putter takes the hands out of it," Simpson said. "Well, I was shaking in my boots the last putt at the U.S. Open. So short putter, belly putter, I was nervous as can be."

Good luck finding much consensus on this issue.

"I do think it's an advantage," said Steve Stricker, who uses a conventional putter. "Any time you can take your arms and hands out of it, especially your hands … when you can anchor it in your chest, is a huge advantage. I'm not a big proponent of long putters."

Stricker said he fooled around with a belly putter over the summer just to see "what all the fuss was about, and it was pretty scary how fast I picked it up, to tell you the truth."

And while he knows the club is legal right now, there was a feeling that it isn't "quite right. … The way the rules were first written, I don't think they had this in mind."

It was at this tournament a year ago where Woods was on the putting green with Keegan Bradley -- who became the first player to win a major using a belly putter when he captured the 2011 PGA Championship.

Woods took Bradley's putter and tried to hit several putts with it, Tiger's disdain apparent after a few tries. It will be a few years still before such putters will be gone from the game, but it is likely coming.

Perhaps Woods can now turn his attention to how far the golf ball travels.