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Practice putting banned from Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup captains Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance have agreed to outlaw practice putting in a bid to speed up play during this September’s trans-Atlantic showdown at The Belfry.

Strange, who will captain the United States in the 34th edition of the Ryder Cup, told reporters last August that slow play had been the bane of recent Ryder Cups.

“In match play, if you do not hold up the pace of play, you always can practice putt,” Strange said.
“We are not allowing that, though, because the matches have gotten extremely slow.

“It’s bad for TV and it’s been so slow in the past. For all the reasons, we are stopping (it). You can go play, guys, and get on with it — that’s what we’ll tell them.”

Practice putting after the completion of a hole became a contentious issue during the last Ryder Cup at Brookline in 1999.

American left-hander Phil Mickelson, playing with Tom Lehman in a Saturday four-ball match against Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, was so upset by the practice putting of his opponents that he marched on to the next tee and drove off while the Europeans were still on the previous green.

“I wasn’t going to let my timing and rhythm get affected by my opponents,” Mickelson told Golf Digest magazine earlier this year.

“In my mind, not only did I not let them affect me in my play but I was able to upset and affect their play, so it worked out great.”

Strange said, however, that a captain’s agreement with Torrance would rule out such issues for The Belfry this September, adding that any breach would result in the loss of the hole.

“Sam and I are doing everything we can to prepare both teams for a great competition. We have the captains’ agreement and Sam and I are not allowing any practice putting.

“I think looking back on it — well, you know what was written and what was said so we are just stopping all of that.

“He (Torrance) agreed right away. We talked about it. We talked about the ramifications, if you had a guy throw one down, knowing that he can practice putt. They are going to drill it on that — there’s no practice putting.

“We are just going to speed up things. Just going to keep anything from happening, no matter — whatever that could be. We have to keep play moving.”

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