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Colin Montgomerie on Monday voiced his concern about the PGA Tour's opposition to a ban on the anchoring of clubs.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said that 13 of the 15 members of his Player Advisory Council were not in favor of banning the anchoring of clubs, a rule change proposed by the Royal & Ancient Club and U.S. Golf Association and due to be enforced in 2016.
"This has opened up a whole new can of worms," Europe's former Ryder Cup captain told Sky Sports. "It's a very dangerous situation we are getting ourselves into and I do hope they can sort this out very, very quickly."
Finchem threw a wrinkle into the plan to outlaw the anchored putting stroke when he said Sunday the tour opposed the ban because there was not enough evidence to suggest players had an advantage by using a long putter.
"We hold the USGA in highest regard as a key part of the game of golf," Finchem said. "We don't attempt to denigrate that position in any way whatsoever. It's just on this issue, we think if they were to move forward they would be making a mistake."
The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced Nov. 28 a proposed rule that would prohibit players from anchoring the club to their body, the method used for belly putters and broom-handled putters that are pressed against the chest.
Three of the past five major champions used a belly putter. The PGA of America also opposes the ban.
"I thought, as we all did, that the rules of golf were set by the R&A and the USGA. Tim Finchem has obviously thought otherwise," Montgomerie said. "I think we should go with what the R&A and USGA feel. Whether the long putter should have been banned 20 years ago or not, it should be banned now."
The governing bodies are nearing the end of a 90-day comment period before deciding whether to adopt the rule, which would not take effect until 2016. Finchem has been meeting with his players the past few months, with USGA executive director Mike Davis presenting the rule in a player meeting in San Diego last month. Finchem sent a letter to the USGA and R&A on Friday to state the tour's position.
"Whether the European Tour think that or not has to be debated too," Montgomerie said.
The long putter has become a polarizing issue in recent years, even though it has been around for the past four decades.
The USGA and R&A said they wanted to ban the anchored stroke because they felt it took too much skill out of the game. The rule change's goal was to define the golf stroke as the club moving freely through the entire swing. They conceded in November there was no empirical data, only a recent spike in more players using long putters.
This has opened up a whole new can of worms. It's a very dangerous situation we are getting ourselves into.” -- Former European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie
"We should abide by that. To now go against that and say 'my players aren't going to go by that' then what happens when you come to USGA events or the British Open? Does that mean you have to use a different club?" Montgomerie said.
"He's said 'we abide by the rules of golf, but I think we are going to change this one.' Does that mean other rules can change as well? We want to play as one under the same rules."
Finchem wanted to make clear that the PGA Tour was not in a "donnybrook" with the USGA over who sets the rules. Rather, he was responding to its request for comment. Even so, it puts the USGA in a position of going through with the ban or backing down because the PGA Tour opposes it.
Finchem has said during the past month that while slightly different rules for the PGA Tour are acceptable, he did not think anchoring would be one of them. And he did not indicate which direction the tour would go if the USGA followed through with the ban.
"The R&A and USGA have served the game of golf for a long, long time and long may that continue," Montgomerie said.
Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.