Webb Simpson has enjoyed success with a belly putter in his five seasons on the PGA Tour, posting three victories, including the 2012 U.S. Open. He doesn't want to see his style of anchored putting stroke thrown out.
The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews adopted a rule banning the anchored putting stroke, effective Jan. 1, 2016. Simpson doesn't agree with the decision and hopes the PGA Tour will continue to allow anchored putting, which would create a rule that is different from what the rest of the world will follow.
"The PGA Tour has gone against rulings before," Simpson said Wednesday in a telephone interview from his home in Charlotte, N.C. "What happened was, the governing bodies kind of reassessed what they were going to do. But I don't think it's going to be good. I don't think having another set of rules is going to be good for the game.
"But in terms of this specific case, every other sport has different rules according to the level. Some NBA rules are totally different than college basketball rules. So I don't see the big hangup in the PGA Tour having a few modified rules but still competing under the USGA's and the R&A's governing body. I don't think it's that big of a deal, to be honest."
The PGA Tour made its feelings known during the discussion period on the rule, saying that it was against any ban on anchored putting and that there was no statistical proof that it created an advantage. Four of its members - Simpson, Ernie Els, Keegan Bradley, and Adam Scott - have won majors in the last 21 months using an anchored putting stroke.
However, tour commissioner Tim Finchem has said that while the tour was against the rule, he believes it is important that golf is played under one set of rules.
"Tim has backed the PGA Tour and its support against [the rule change] for a long time, and hopefully he'll stay with that," the 27-year-old Simpson said. "It's going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. I've disagreed with it from the beginning. I don't think it's right. I don't think they have good evidence to do it, and that's what I'm sticking with."
Simpson also suggested that tour players be given an opportunity to consult with the ruling bodies of golf on any proposed changes.
"If the whole PGA Tour of 150 guys agrees on something unanimously, it's not like we're dumb and they're smart," he said. "We're smart, too. I think we should have a little more input and our input probably be a little higher when there are rules changes."
Simpson was in the Philadelphia area Monday, giving a clinic at Aronimink Golf Club. He said the highlight of the day was making a hole in one at the par-3 17th hole.
"That was cool," he said.
Simpson will be returning to the area June 10 to begin preparations for the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. Merion is a course with which he is familiar, having competed in the 2005 U.S. Amateur there.
The defending Open champion should be well-rested; he is taking off three of the four weeks leading up to Merion, playing only in next week's Memorial Tournament.
"I think I'll feel comfortable since I've played Merion," he said. "I understand Merion. I think it will help. It will be different from when I last played it. But overall, I kind of get the gist of the golf course. I love Merion."