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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Arnold Palmer blasts long putter

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Arnold Palmer is against having two sets of rules for professional and amateur golfers and is not in favor of "contraptions," such as belly putters, long putters and anchored strokes, that have led to contentious arguments in the game.

Palmer also expressed his disappointment that No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy is not in the field this week at his PGA Tour event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The golf legend spoke at a news conference in advance of the tournament that begins Thursday at the Bay Hill Club.

"I don't think that golf has a place for two sets of rules," said Palmer, the winner of seven major championships and 62 PGA Tour titles in his career. "I think one of the reasons that the game has progressed in the way that it has over the years is the fact that the amateurs and the pros all play the same game and they play under the same set of rules. I feel like that is very, very important.

"It may be the key to the future success of the game of golf, just the fact that there will be one set of rules and we'll all play by them."

Golf's governing bodies, the United States Golf Association and R&A, proposed a ban of anchored putting on Nov. 28, with a comment period of various opinions recently concluded. They are expected to come out with a final ruling on whether anchored putting will be banned sometime this spring.

"Now the long putter, I've objected to that from the beginning," Palmer said. "I only think that we don't need a long putter. That's not part of the game of golf. To attach it to your body in any way is taking a little bit away from the game.

"I'm not going to argue with anybody about it. ... I've stated my position, and that is that we do not need a contraption to play the game of golf. I would hope that we'd play under one set of rules and those rules would include a ban on the long putter hooked to the body in some way, shape or form."

McIlroy, who has played just four tournaments this year, including a missed cut and a withdrawal, has never played here, causing Palmer to jokingly remark that he'd "break his arm" if he didn't play this year.

"It was meant in jest, and it was strictly a passing remark,'' Palmer said. "Frankly, I thought he was going to play, and I was as surprised as a lot of people when he decided he was not going to play."

McIlroy will play next week's Shell Houston Open, his final tournament prior to the Masters.

"I've had conversations, brief conversations with him some time ago, not recently, about his playing. For some reason I got it in my mind that he would be playing, but that, obviously, is wrong," Palmer said. "What his reason or reasoning is, I don't know, and I'm not going to worry about it."

Tiger Woods is the defending champion of the tournament and has won the event seven times.