5 Things: The Johnson ruling, Ko split and Bryson goes side-saddleDecember 9, 2016 Golf News
A round-up of the week's stories with a welcome rule change, a World No 1 and her coach part ways and a new/old putting technique
1) The Dustin Johnson ruling
There was no mention of the US Open winner in the press release but it was pretty clear why this ruling has finally come about. Thank you, Dustin Johnson.
The USGA, in conjunction with the R&A, have announced a new local rule that when a player accidentally moves their ball on the green, as Johnson did at Oakmont and was subsequently docked a shot, there will be no penalty.
“We took the view that the rule was not working as well as it looks on paper and that we needed to try and address this,” David Rickman, executive director of governance at the R&A, told BBC Sport.
“Oakmont was clearly a difficult time and much has been said about that, but it was one of a number of cases that triggered this action.
“In practical terms it means that any competition organiser can introduce this Local Rule and it would mean any accidental movement of the ball on the putting green will be exempt from penalty,” added Rickman.
So if you move it you can put the ball back though if it moves due to wind or another outside agent you play it from its new position.
The USGA’s Mike Davis added: “There was simply too many times on the putting green where we were seeing players penalised, balls moving. We weren’t sure the cause. What’s been happening is that you’re seeing penalties assessed that the rules never really contemplated.”
2) All change for World No 1 Ko
Lydia Ko and her caddy Jason Hamilton parted ways in October, now it is her world-famous coach David Leadbetter who has left Team Ko.
The 20-year-old wants to go in a new direction and used the tried-and-trusted reason of needing a ‘fresh set of eyes’. But Leadbetter – who got together with the New Zealander in November 2013, a period where Ko won 12 times on the LPGA Tour including two Majors – told GolfChannel.com that he thought that the decision was helped along by her parents.
“She called me and said, `David, this is the hardest decision for me, you’re like family, but I’ve decided I need to make a change,’” Leadbetter said.
“My parting words to Lydia were that I think she needs to take control of her life and her golf game. She’s the No 1 player in the world. She isn’t 15 any more; she’s nearly 20. Her parents have done a great job bringing her up and getting her to a certain level, but she is old enough now to where she should be making her own decisions.”
Ko won five times up until July this year, including the ANA Inspiration, but then her form hit the buffers. In five successive events she failed to notch a top 10, her worst run since she started out on the LPGA Tour five years ago.
“There were swing changes in Korea we weren’t made aware of,” said Leadbetter who added that her father had become more involved of late.
“Her swing certainly got looser. It looked like she was lifting the club too much, and as the year went on that grew worse. Her trainers will tell you fitness was an issue, and I think that was a huge factor. The fix for her dad’s part was to try to flatten her backswing.”
Ko, who has been the World No 1 for 78 weeks already in her short career, is also expected to switch clubs, leaving Callaway for a new deal with PXG Golf.
3) Bjorn to add his twist to selection process
Thomas Bjorn has promised a ‘few tweaks’ with the current Ryder Cup selection policy – which is another way of saying let’s get the likes of Paul Casey on the team for 2018.
The Englishman did not take up membership of the European Tour and therefore missed out on Darren Clarke’s side at Hazeltine, something that people weren’t too bothered about when it happened but were then stunned when we got stuffed and Casey started to play well again.
The Dane will now, all in good time of course, weigh up the need for continuity – Europe have won eight of the past 11 matches – while also making sure we have the best 12 players in Paris.
“There’s a lot of nuances into this, and they all need to be looked at. Yes, selection will be reviewed, and it should be, because the world and the game is a moving thing. But we’re in no immediate rush and no panic to do it. We’ll look at it carefully. We might stay where we are but we might also come up with a few tweaks.
“Almost the biggest task at hand at the moment is not to get too panicked about not having the trophy on this side of the Atlantic. I will go forward with what our players want and what we’re all about as a team. But then I also have my own thinking and concerns about what I can bring to it, and will give it my own twist. We’ve been very successful in the past, and let’s not go away from that.”
Expect, in a cleverly worded press release, things to change relatively significantly.
4) The Scientist is at it again..
Bryson DeChambeau, he of the one-length irons and balls washed in Epsom salts, hinted a couple of months ago that he might experiment with a side-saddle putting technique.
Well, this week ‘The Scientist’ (he did major in physics) went full on Sam Snead. Unlike Slammin’ Sammy he chose to grip the club with his right hand, while his left hand grips both the club and his right forearm.
Looks like someone is taking a little different approach to his putting ? https://t.co/iTS85uTukl
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 6, 2016
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 8, 2016
5) I really want to be mates with Justin Thomas..
Worth clicking on the Tweet to see Beef and Bryson get involved
To prevent more texts about it, yes @b_dechambeau is really good at the side saddle, no I couldn't do it and yes he is a lot smarter than me
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) December 8, 2016