New rules spark locker room chatter

Who of the 156 players in this week’s elite field at the SMBC Singapore Open will take advantage of the new golf rules by leaving the flag in while putting?

While the concept will be anathema to many, it will be the exceptions that prove the new rule which came into force along with a slew of others at the start of 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the unorthodox Bryson DeChambeau kept the flag in for a lot of his putts during the recent PGA Tour events in Hawaii with some success – he finished top-10 in both tournaments.

With the SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club being the opening event of 2019 on the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation, most players in the field will be playing under the new rules for the first time.

Dropping the ball from knee height rather than shoulder height while taking a penalty, repairing spike marks on the putting green and moving loose impediments in a bunker are amongst the rules which will cause debate.

Players are swotting up on the recently introduced regulations with defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain keen to know them off pat come Thursday.

He had a briefing from fellow Ryder Cup star Paul Casey on Tuesday but said that he still needed to do a bit more homework.

“I still need to get used to some of the things,” said the world number 27. “It is going to take a little bit of time … some of them are quite different and you have to be very aware of it.

“Obviously a couple of things (like) dropping from the knee and the new rules when it comes to the drop and the way it has to be done. So that is important to do. Paul mentioned to me this morning a little bit of it.

“On the greens some different things will apply, (for instance you are) able to tap down the spikes mark. I will see a spike mark and say to myself ‘can I or can’t I‘ (repair it). You have to be aware of a couple of things, a couple of changes here and there.”

Despite attending a couple of briefings during the PGA Tour events in Hawaii, Casey said he was not completely comfortable with all the new rules.

“Dropping from the knee is still a slightly bizarre feeling to do,” he said.

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