The BMW SA Open Championship proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni is the first event of the year in which players are no longer permitted to anchor the club while putting. For Shaun Norris, a player who has used the anchoring method previously, 2016 would be a new start to putting.
However, Norris seems to be relishing the change after opening the championship with a six-under-par 66 on Thursday. When asked about his putting after a blistering start to the event, Norris said, ”In the off-season I’ve been putting with friends, playing rounds with short putters, tinkering around and I eventually found something that feels good. I hit a couple of very good putts today and it seems to be working.”
Norris is one of many professional golfers who have been affected by the rule change, many of them major champions like Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson, and even two-time South African Open champion Tim Clark, who won the ‘fifth major’, the PGA Tour’s Players Championship.
It helped that Glendower Golf Club is in such superb condition. Norris said that the greens are some of the best around. “You just can’t find a better surface at the moment, especially with the weather problems we’ve had, with the heat and everything they are absolutely stunning.”
Something which must give Norris endless amounts of confidence is just how quickly he has adapted to the law changes. When asked if he had practiced in the last year with the short putter, Norris simply said, “No. Changing to the short putter, I didn’t really feel like I was that uncomfortable. I just stuck to it and trusted it and it seems to be working.”
Speaking about his putting performance from day one and his success on some of the longer putts, Norris said, “It shows me I’m on the right path and I’m working on the right things. I’ve just got to keep going at it and it can only get better.”
Unfortunately, for some other former anchorers in the field such as Le Roux Ferreira, switching to a different putting technique hasn’t been so easy. He has kept a long putter, and grips it with the help of his left forearm, like Bradley does. “I started well, but under pressure there are a lot of things going on, so it’s something I need to work on. I missed a short one on the last hole, so under pressure when you have to make it…” he said.
Now that the players have no option but to avoid anchored putters, Ferreira said “My left hand is shaky and I have to find a way to get around it. I’ll have to work on it.”
For Norris, the work ahead should help him get even better this week.