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Controversial driver cleared for use in Open

Golf's most controversial club could be used by a player to win the Open Championship at St Andrews in July despite being banned in America.

While the United States Golf Association disapprove of the Callaway ERC driver because of the "spring-like" effect of its club face, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club who govern the game in the rest of the world have held fire pending the results of research carried out at Birmingham University. This data is now "essentially complete", and the R&A's Implements and Balls committee have decided that regulation in the form of a test procedure is required.

All manufacturers have been given a further month to make written submissions and a review will be made prior to an implementation date of October 1 - long after the Open has taken place. Peter Dawson, secretary of the R&A, said:

"The lack of uniformity of testing around the world is undesirable and needs to be resolved quickly, but not in haste. We don't know enough about the impact. Maybe the USGA will come over to our test. This is a very big subject and it needs sorting out. We need more time to study it."

The R&A's hesitation may also be partly influenced by Callaway's decision to sue the Royal Canadian Golf Association for banning the ERC driver, especially as the company has declared that it is aiming the club at the international market rather than America.

For this reason, the R&A rather than the USGA might find themselves in Callaway's firing line should they eventually decide to ban the product. E

uropean No 1 Colin Montgomerie used the driver in competition for the first time at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Hamburg and around 15 other players, including New Zealander Michael Campbell, have also tried it out at tournaments around the world.

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