Finchem talks anchoring ban at Tour players meeting

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem

SAN DIEGO – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem addressed the media Wednesday morning to discuss the previous night’s players meeting and the Tour’s reaction to the proposed anchoring ban. The b-word, “bifurcation,” came up, and Finchem made it clear that he is not opposed to separate sets of rules for professionals and amateurs.

“Technically there is that possibility,” Finchem said. “However, it certainly wouldn’t be our objective. Our objective is to follow the rules and keep the rules together.

“Having said that, the whole question of bifurcation is always out there to be discussed. ... Personally, I think in some situations bifurcation is OK.”

Finchem said he’s long been in favor of having two sets of rules regarding the golf ball, but said it is too early to discuss the PGA Tour not going along with the proposed anchoring ban.

“We’re in the information-gathering process right now,” Finchem said.

Tuesday night’s players meeting was part of that process. It was the first since the anchoring ban was announced last year.

“It was primarily designed to allow players to be able to give their opinions,” Finchem said. U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis was among those in attendance. The Tour will present its reaction to the anchoring ban to the USGA in the “next few weeks” after discussion by the PGA Tour Policy Board, Finchem said.

Players at the meeting, as well as Davis, declined comment afterward.

The ban was announced Nov. 28, though the USGA and R&A announced they would accept further comment on the issue through Feb. 28. A final decision is expected this spring. The ban would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2016.

The commissioner’s main concern seemed more about the “distraction” the ban has caused in the game.

“It stirs a lot of strong feelings,” Finchem said. “So consequently, it’s a difficult situation. Personally, I view the professional game as being the strongest it’s ever been. So I don’t like to see distractions, but it’s not a perfect world. This is kind of a distraction.

“You have players on television, in front of galleries, playing with a method that has been outlawed, even though the enforcement date is later. That’s in and of itself the makings of a distraction.”

Finchem also said there could be separate rules regarding anchoring on the PGA and Champions tours, and that it would be possible to implement the ban before the 2013-14 season, though that seems unlikely. Both issues are on a “long list” of issues the Tour is looking at.

“There isn’t much to this that doesn’t cause some kind of problem,” Finchem said of the proposed ban.

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