Wentworth Blog: Ban these guys, too

2013 08 Sergio2
Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship is typically a busy day as the majority of players arrive to begin their preparations for the tournament, and this year is no different.

Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Miguel Angel Jimenez were all at Wentworth today grooving their games on the range ahead of Thursday's first round, with Rory particularly favourite amongst the fans.

I counted over 100 spectators following him up the first fairway as he got his practice round underway - with no other players for company, incidentally - shortly after 10am. As well as those spectators, all keen to glimpse the world No.2 up close in what is likely to be one of only three events that he plays in the UK this year, Rory's dad Gerry was also in close attendance as was Sean O'Flaherty, an employee of Horizon, the management company McIlroy is thought to have left last week. Has he persuaded O'Flaherty to jump ship with him? Who knows, but it certainly looked that way.
The common consensus is that this is an issue that, far from being resolved and dealt with like the R&A might wish, still has a long way to run.

Naturally, Rory's signature was the one thing the many autograph hunters outside the ropes were after today but I didn't see the Northern Irishman sign many. Understandable that. After all, if he was to sign every autograph he'd be there all day. Plus, he is probably savvy enough to know that some of these signature collectors are what you might call professional autograph hunters, looking to get well-known players to sign photos of themselves that will, within hours, be on-sale on eBay for astronomical sums. These people really are the scourge of professional golf tournaments and it amazes me that they have never been weeded out and banned.

One thing that has been banned, of course, is anchored putting, the decision being announced by the R&A in the magnificent Wentworth clubhouse today. It's fair to say that the decision wasn't exactly unexpected but it has still created something of a stir. Some of my fellow journalists went straight to the putting green from the press conference to see if they could find any anchorers who might react to the news. Of course, they were almost noticeable by their absence.

The common consensus is that this is an issue that, far from being resolved and dealt with like the R&A might wish, still has a long way to run. The PGA Tour and PGA of America have both revealed their opposition to the ban and, when I asked R&A chief executive Peter Dawson how equipment manufacturers had reacted to the decision to ratify the proposal, he admitted that there wasn't a consensus of opinion from them. Some are happy, some are not. Heaven help the game's governing bodies if they ever do to try to anything to limit the golf ball...

Tomorrow, the attention shifts to the pro-am, where countless famous faces from the worlds of sport and showbiz will play alongside the most high-profile players in the field. As such, big crowds are once again anticipated. Just so long as they're not looking for signatures that they can punt on internet auctions sites when they get home, they'll be most welcome!

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