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Haas, Langer defend long putter use

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Haas, Langer defend long putter use

SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer says the debate over putting with long clubs is far from over.

Langer has been using a long putter he anchors to his chest for 15 years, and the German remains one of the best on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, winning the money list for the fourth time this year. He was perplexed when the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced a new rule that would ban players from anchoring the club to the body.

``It has been out for that long,'' Langer said Thursday at the Nedbank Challenge. ``If there is anything illegal about it, why did they not stop it right away? If it is that easy with a long putter, a belly putter, why aren't 90 percent of the pros and 100 percent of the amateurs using it?''

Langer suggested there might be a challenge to the rule proposal.

``I do not think it is the end of it,'' he said. ``There are pros that are on tour that grew up with that putter. They have invested 15-20 years in practicing, maybe 30 years practicing with a long putter or belly putter, and now they have to switch and they make a living doing that.''

Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark, who use long putters, have hinted at fighting any ban on the anchored stroke. They have used long putters as long as they have been on the PGA Tour. Clark is on holiday in South African and could not be reached for comment, while Pettersson declined interviews Thursday, not wanting to talk about the rule.

The governing bodies will take comment on the proposed rule for three months before approving it. The rule would not take effect until 2016.

Bill Haas used the belly putter in 2011 when he won the Tour Championship can captured the $10 million bonus in the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour. He switched back to a conventional putter this year and won at Riviera. Haas, who has used both putters recently, doesn't think the rule needs to be changed.

``I thought I putted worse with it (the belly putter) for a while,'' the American said. ``I think it's just a way to putt. I've heard Webb Simpson talk about it and he says stats show the best putters aren't belly putters users.''

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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