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Top players back technology limitations

Open organisers are delighted leading players such as Tiger Woods and Ernie Els have called for a curb on the rapid advance of golf club technology.

Although no immediate action is to be taken by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A), the game's ruling body outside the United States and Mexico, it says it is vital the correct measures are taken in the best interests of the game.

"I wouldn't want to put the whole issue of technology in crisis proportions because the same leading players, year after year over the course of the season, are right up there," R&A chief executive Peter Dawson told a news conference at Royal Troon on Monday.

"It's not a question of urgency, it's a question of getting it right.

"But I think it's significant that, for the first time, we are seeing players at the top of their careers saying that something needs to be done.

"In the past, it's been top players saying it later in their lives.

"I think no doubt the larger-headed drivers of today are easier to hit and the golf ball of today goes further and spins less."

Dawson said world number one Woods, Els and American Charles Howell III had expressed their concerns to him during the practice days before last week's British Open.

HOT SUBJECT

"The belly putter is a particularly hot subject with some of the top players at the moment," he added.

"They've been able to see some of their competitors off the putting green and then something technological comes along to redress the balance.

"It does take, under pressure, some of the skills out of the game.

"The advent of the belly putter has brought the whole issue under the radar screen but I'm not saying anything is imminent at the moment."

Broomhandle and belly-putters, pioneered by 2002 European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance among others during the late 1980s and early 1990s, are tucked under the chin or into the belly.

They are swung in a pendulum fashion, and crucially make demands on a different set of small muscles and nerves.

Their use seems to be totally at odds with the spirit of the game but it has played a key role in reviving the careers of several players who have suffered from the yips -- or the putting twitches.

Although the rapid advance in golfing equipment has been created by the manufacturers, Dawson denied they were the "big sticking point".

"This is not warfare," he said. "We all have the best interests of the game at heart.

"The game of golf has evolved over history but clearly a solution has to be found which is in golf's best interest."

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