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Defining the art of putting

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Defining the art of putting

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, two of the major faces in the debate over belly putters, said Tuesday they would not fight a change in the rules if golf's governing bodies decide to outlaw putters anchored to the body.

That doesn't mean they're in favor of a ban.

``I'm obviously not happy with the ruling, but I respect the USGA, and especially Mike Davis,'' Bradley said. ``They make the rules, and I'll adjust appropriately. But I'm going to accept the challenge and hopefully do well when they do ban it.''

Davis, the USGA executive director, and Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson have scheduled a press conference Wednesday morning to announce their conclusions on the future of long putters. All indications point toward a ban on anchoring the club.

At issue is not the putter itself, but whether it can be anchored to the body, such as the stomach (belly putters) or the chest (long putters).

The long putters have been in vogue for the better part of 25 years, though a recent surge in use got the attention of golf's two governing bodies. Bradley became the first major champion with a belly putter when he won the PGA Championship last year. Simpson won the U.S. Open using a belly putter, and Ernie Els won the British Open with a belly putter, rallying to beat Adam Scott, who uses a long putter he anchors to the top of his chest.

Guan Tianling, the 14-year-old from China, used a belly putter to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur earlier this month to earn a spot in the Masters.

Dawson spoke in July about looking at the anchored putters as a rules issue instead of an equipment issue. If that's the case and it is banned, it would not take effect until 2016 because the Rules of Golf are only updated every four years.

While a change would affect players like the recent major champions, Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark, several others are opposed to putters stuck into the body. They argue it takes away nervous hands and allows for a smoother stroke.

Tiger Woods is opposed to long putters, and he stated his argument clearly on Tuesday.

``I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves, and having it as a fixed point - as I was saying all year - is something that's not in the traditions of the game,'' Woods said. ``We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same. It should be a swinging motion throughout the entire bag.''

Woods said his biggest concern was not so much the major champions, but junior players.

``There have been some guys who had had success out there, and obviously everyone always copies what we out here, and that's something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted,'' he said.

Simpson first switched to a belly putter in 2004 to help with consistency. He found one in a pro shop, gave it a try and noticed immediate improvement. But for all the attention on belly putters, he said it was the accuracy with his driver that helped him win the U.S. Open at Olympic Club this year.

``My argument the whole time is to change something that drastic, it needs to be based off facts and not what certain people think the tradition of the game looks like,'' Simpson said. ``But look, I'm not going to be one of those guys that says this is a terrible decision. I'm just saying to make a change this big, show me the facts. And hey, they're the governing body, so we'll see what happens.''

Simpson already has been practicing with a conventional putter, preparing for such a ban. He said if there is a ban, he would use the conventional putter at home, and then in pro-am rounds and make the switch when he's comfortable with it.

``I'm just going to take it one step at a time until my comfort level gets better and better,'' Simpson said. ``If I feel ready by Hyundai (the start of the 2013 season), I'll be putting with a short putter. And if I don't feel ready for two years, I'll wait.''

Bradley said he would be in no rush to make the change if there is a ban.

Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter were among those who lined up against anchored putters earlier this month in Australia. McDowell said the rule should have been changed years ago, and that using an anchored putter ``takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke,'' which he feels is an advantage under pressure.

Poulter, as usual, was more blunt.

``Ban it. End of story,'' Poulter said.

Steve Stricker, regarded as one of the best putters in golf, has picked up a belly putter to see what the rage was all about. And it concerned him.

``It was pretty scary how fast I picked it up, to tell you the truth,'' Stricker said. ``I went and anchored it just right below my sternum. It was a little different feel for me, but I got pretty consistent pretty quick with it. So I can see that there was an advantage, even though I can't see myself ever doing it.''

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.

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4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

4 reasons the Caps beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

The Caps put together their best performance of the series Thursday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

The win pulled Washington even with Columbus in the series 2-2.

Here's how the Caps got the big win.

4 Reasons why the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets in Game 4

1. Tom Wilson factors in the offense

Wilson’s hands are good for more than just punching.

He proved that again on Thursday as he scored the first goal for the second consecutive game. Chandler Stephenson and John Carlson provided the pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky scrambling in the crease, Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck back to Wilson who fired the one-timer past the Columbus netminder.

In the first two games of the series, Wilson had no points and no shots. In the last two games, he has two goals and 13 shots on goal.

2. A great keep-in by John Carlson

We saw how dangerous it was when penalty killers fail to clear the puck in Game 1 when the Caps failed to clear in the third period leading to the game-tying power play goal.

In Game 4, the roles were reversed. Trying to kill off an Artemi Panarin penalty, Cam Atkinson attempted to clear the puck with the backhand. Carlson skillfully corralled the puck out of the air at the blue line to keep it in the zone.

The power play was able to reset and T.J. Oshie scored the rebound goal soon after.

3. Braden Holtby closes the door to finish the second period

After the Caps took the 2-0 lead, the Blue Jackets made a late push to try to pull one back.

In the last 10 minutes of the second period, Columbus had 13 shot attempts, five of which were not net. Several of those shots were high-quality opportunities, but Holtby came up with the big saves that the team was not getting earlier in the series.

His play ensured the Caps took the 2-0 lead to the locker room.

4. Alex Ovechkin extends the lead to three

Washington entered the third period up 2-0. In each of the first three games, the Caps held a two-goal lead and allowed the Blue Jackets to battle back and tie the score. Even with a two-goal lead, it still felt at the start of the third that the next goal would decide the game. If Columbus pulled within one and got the crowd back on their side, we have seen what that momentum can do for them.

This time, however, Ovechkin struck first. After a board battle behind the net, the puck trickled out to the faceoff circle. Ovechkin grabbed it and quickly snapped the puck past Bobrovsky before anyone could react.

The goal gave Washington their first three-goal lead of the series and shut the Blue Jackets’ comeback down before it could begin.

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