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OneAsia's Stolz unfazed by belly putter ban

Andre StolzSHENZHEN, China, Nov 28 - OneAsia Order of Merit winner Andre Stolz says he is unfazed by a likely ruling that will outlaw the use of a belly putter on tour from 2016.

The United States Golf Association and the R&A have called news conferences for later on Wednesday where it is widely anticipated they will announce a ban on the anchoring of a club to the body, effectively ruling out any advantage that long putters are supposed to give.

Stolz, in Shenzhen to compete for the Asia-Pacific team to take on China in the Dongfeng Nissan Cup starting on Friday, said he would wait to see the exact wording of any new regulation before giving a definitive response, but he anticipated a fightback by players who prefer a long putter.

"There's going to be lawsuits," he said. "Maybe they're throwing a feeler out to see what happens."

Anchored putters have long been considered the last refuge of those suffering from the yips, but also for players getting on in years or suffering from back problems.

But the number of players using belly, chest and chin putters has increased dramatically around the world as professional and amateur players seek any advantage they can get.

Long putters have also been a boon to club manufacturers, who have reported huge increases in sales around the world. Any ban would impact their bottom line.

Three of the last five Major winners used long, anchored putters—Keegan Bradley at the 2011 U.S. PGA Championship and Webb Simpson and Ernie Els at the U.S. Open and Open Championship this year.

"We appreciate that there is much speculation about this and that we need to clarify the position as soon as possible," said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, after Els pipped Adam Scott (long putter) down the final stretch.

If the USGA and R&A do confirm a ban on anchored putting on Wednesday, the measure won't be approved until next year and won't go into effect for another three years.

Stolz, 42, who has won twice on OneAsia and claimed the Order of Merit title last year, is confident he can adapt regardless of which style of putter he uses.

"I won the Thailand Open last year with a short putter and went 17 under on the weekend with the short putter, holing everything," he said.

"I chop and change anyway, so I guess I'll just wait and see."