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Clark speaks softly, carries a long putter

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - Tim Clark would have been easy to miss among dozens of PGA Tour players who poured out of a hotel ballroom after a two-hour meeting on the proposed ban of the stroke used for long putters - except he was the only guy with a suitcase.

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Clark didn't bring golf clubs to Torrey Pines, only an overnight bag. He didn't play in the tournament, but he paid his way to San Diego just so he could be at the mandatory player meeting, the one Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did not attend. The special guest was USGA executive director Mike Davis, invited to explain the proposed rule on anchoring and to take any questions.

Clark wanted to be heard.

``I didn't realize until that night he wasn't in the field,'' Lucas Glover said. ``I thought it was very courageous of him to do what he did. He flew here. He spent his own money to get here and back for something he cares about. My opinion on it doesn't matter. He spoke his mind in a respectful way. He did not lash out. He asked honest questions and stated honest opinions. And I was proud of him. The way he handled himself was brilliant.''

No one has more to lose over this ban than Clark.

He has a genetic condition that keeps him from turning his forearms and wrists inward. Clark has anchored the long putter to his chest for about as long as anyone has seen him play. Despite the physical limitations - Clark has never ranked higher than 140th in driving distance - he has won The Players Championship, Australian Open, Scottish Open and twice the South African Open.

Based on several accounts of those in the room, Clark spoke with dignity and integrity.

``I think what he did to fly in for the meeting showed a lot,'' Keegan Bradley said. ``He's got something he wants to stand up for, and that's something I admire. He presented some nice points. When he talks, people listen.''

Exactly what Clark said remains private, another show of respect by his peers.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is headed back to San Diego this week to meet with the USGA before its annual meeting. Finchem said the tour's objective had always been to follow the lead of the USGA and R&A for rules. He also said there might be a place for two sets of rules in golf, though perhaps not in the case of anchored strokes.

Geoff Ogilvy felt the majority of players who don't use an anchored stroke are ambivalent about the proposed rule and that ``the passion is coming from 5 percent.''

He was impressed with Clark, especially with how prepared he was.

``He's been researching this the whole offseason,'' Ogilvy said. ``He basically put his position out there, and probably positions that Mike hadn't thought about or didn't acknowledge as importantly as Tim saw them.

``What Tim did achieve ... whether he had any effect on the USGA position, a big portion of the ambivalent people were on Tim's side when they walked out of the room.''

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BACK TO THE ROCK: Geoff Ogilvy went from one home to another in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour.

Ogilvy has been living in Del Mar, Calif., about 5 miles down the coastal highway from Torrey Pines for the last couple of years. But he felt something was missing from his game. That turned out to be Whisper Rock Golf Club, where he gets plenty of competition from PGA Tour players.

Ogilvy moved his wife and three children back to Scottsdale, Ariz., last summer before 6-year-old Phoebe started school.

``I played well last year without getting anything out of it. The scoring was bad relative to how I was playing,'' he said. ``If I had played like that five years ago, I would have been in the top five on the money list. That's how I felt, anyway.''

The tale of two cities came down to the golf he played away from the tour.

``I used to play golf all the time with really good players,'' he said. ``All I've done over here is range sessions and putting. That got better, but the scoring got worse. And at the end of the day, it's about scoring.''

Ogilvy is keeping his house in Del Mar and will spend his summers there, when the Pacific summer is more enjoyable than the desert.

``Whisper Rock is a special place,'' he said. ``This is less about Arizona and more about Whisper Rock. It was a hard decision because we love it over here so much. But as soon as we got back, I realized it was the right thing. I get up in the morning, take the kids to school and go to the golf course.''

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SOUTHERN HILLS: Southern Hills has not given up on its hopes of hosting a fourth U.S. Open.

It hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2009 and had been working to bring the U.S. Open to Tulsa, Okla., in the next available date. The club was disappointed to learn that the 2020 U.S. Open instead was going to Winged Foot.

``We' knew it was coming down to us and Winged Foot,'' Southern Hills general manager Nick Sidorkis told Golf Oklahoma. ``They are two great courses with great tradition. Obviously, Tulsa is not the same as New York when it comes to corporate hospitality potential, but we know that we can hold a successful championship.''

Southern Hills hosted seven majors - three U.S. Opens (most recently in 2001 won by Retief Goosen) and three PGA Championships, the last one in 2007 won by Tiger Woods. Sidorkis said it would not pursue other big tournaments until the USGA told the club it is not interested, and that hasn't happened.

``Our endeavor is we want to host the national championship. We're going to continue until they tell us otherwise,'' he said.

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FOG MULLIGAN: When fog wiped out Saturday's round at Torrey Pines, the 87 players who made the cut played straight through the next two days to try to get in 72 holes. There wasn't time to make a 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties, ordinarily the case when more than 78 players make it to the weekend.

That's worth keeping in mind later in the year.

Had there been a 54-hole cut, 10 players would have been eliminated after the third round and given one FedEx Cup point. Given the extra round, James Driscoll shot 68 and Hank Kuehne had a 70. They received 16 points. Doug LaBelle shot 71 and received eight points.

It might not seem like much now. But keep in mind that Jhonattan Vegas missed out on the playoffs by two points, and that Kyle Stanley was seven points short of qualifying for the Tour Championship.

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DIVOTS: Lee Trevino is this year's recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award. He will receive the highest honor from the PGA of America at the PGA Championship on Aug. 7 at Oak Hill, where Trevino won the 1968 U.S. Open. ... No one was more irritated by CBS Sports wanting the late start to the Monday finish at Torrey Pines than Ben Curtis. He is playing the Dubai Desert Classic this week, and the late start meant getting into the Dubai on Wednesday morning for the pro-am, instead of Tuesday night. ... Tiger Woods has more than half of his 75 PGA Tour victories in three states - 14 in California, 13 in Florida and 12 in Ohio. ... And then there were three: Kyle Stanley, Tommy Gainey and Scott Stallings are in the Phoenix Open, making them the only players at all five PGA Tour events this year.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has won 80 percent of his stroke-play titles on the PGA Tour playing in the final group.

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FINAL WORD: ``I'm trying to shoot the lowest score I possibly can. I don't know if I look calm or intense or relaxed or jovial, whatever it is. I'm trying to beat everyone in this field, and that hasn't changed and it won't change.'' - Tiger Woods.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
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