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Els' coach wants quick belly putter decision

updated 11:30 AM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ernie Els' coach calls for a decision on anchored putting
  • PGA Tour spoke out against a ban on the technique, which could be outlawed
  • Claude Harmon III says a delay on the decision could damage integrity of golf
  • Els, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson have all won recent majors using belly putter

(CNN) -- The coach of four-time major winner Ernie Els has urged golf's governing bodies to come to a quick decision on the proposed banning of anchored putting.

Golf's rulemakers Royal & Ancient (R & A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA), which governs the game in the U.S. and Mexico, announced in November they intend to ban the method of putting by which a club is anchored to a part of the body by 2016.

The decision has been backed by the European Tour, but Tim Finchem, commissioner of the lucrative U.S.-based PGA Tour, opposes the rule change which would essentially outlaw the controversial "belly putter".

Els is one of a clutch of recent major winners who favor using the belly putter -- three of the last five majors have been won by a player using the technique.

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Els' coach Claude Harmon III has called for a solution to be found soon in order to protect the integrity of the game.

"They have to make a decision quickly," Harmon told CNN's Living Golf. "Brandt Snedeker, who's easily the best putter on the planet, got up and said to Tim, 'You've got to make a decision now.

"If we let this thing continue for three or four more years the guys that are still using the long putter are still going to be winning golf tournaments and then do we put a asterisk, is there a stigma attached to that.

"The longer this keeps going and they still can't find a decision, a guy like Keegan Bradley, does he practice and waste time away from his game to try and do something or does he just continue to do what he is really good at?"

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Bradley and fellow American Webb Simpson both used the anchored putting technique to win the PGA Championship in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Harmon joined Finchem in questioning whether the method offered players an advantage over more conventional putting techniques.

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"None of the best putters in the world use a belly putter and I know from talking to guys like Ernie, like Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson, I think they do feel a little bit that there's a target on their back," added Harmon.

"I think it is going to be very hard to quantify with data an advantage that a belly putter gives players.

"The PGA Tour and the European Tour and golf at a professional level is a sport absolutely, but it is also a business.

"For me what Tim Finchem is trying to do is say to the governing bodies, this is just my opinion, that if you're going to make decisions that affect the professional game you have to involve the professional game."

Former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, who uses a traditional putter, also wants to see the issue put to bed.

"I'm a little tired of it," 2010 PGA championship winner Kaymer told CNN. "Everybody should make a decision and we move on. All the speculation now is a little bit too much.

"The PGA Tour, the R & A, the European Tour, they should sit down and make a decision together."

Kevin Garside, of British newspaper The Independent, suggests the reintroduction of golf at the 2016 Olympic Games means anchored putting will be banned, despite U.S. resistance.

"I think it's clear where this is going," said Garside. "You can't get this far and then say, 'OK, as you were.' The putter is going to be banned.

"The Olympic Games is coming up, you can't have an anchored putter at the Olympic Games. It's as simple as that."

According to Bob Harig of ESPN.com, the PGA Tour will have to back down in order to avoid a division within the sport.

"You can't have different rules," Harig said. "They're going to have to fall in line with whatever the USGA and R & A do.

"It would be chaotic if the PGA Tour wrote their own rule on this, which they've never done. It would be a major departure."

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