New groove regulations no big issue for veteran golfer Kenny Perry

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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Kenny Perry has predicted the game's top players will adapt more quickly than expected by many pundits when new regulations for club-face grooves come into effect at this week's SBS Championship.

Although the American PGA Tour veteran accepts wedge shots from the rough could pose a few problems, he does not buy into the widespread notion that scoring will suffer overall.

"It will cause some problems but I don't think it's going to be a real big issue," Perry, 49, told Reuters on the eve of Thursday's opening round at the Kapalua Resort. "I think guys will adjust pretty quickly and you will still see good scores.

"I have struggled a little bit with my wedges. My sand wedges and stuff don't bite like they used to bite, they want to release on out. But out of the fairway with my irons I haven't noticed much difference at all."

As of January 1, new rules relating to club-face grooves were implemented at the top level after research found modern configurations could allow players to generate almost as much spin with irons from the rough as from the fairway.

All clubs, with the exception of drivers and putters, have been affected by the change which limits groove volume and groove-edge sharpness, effectively replacing U-grooves with V-grooves.

Larger volume grooves can help channel away more material such as water or grass while sharper groove edges allow better contact between club and ball, thereby increasing the chance of backspin.

"Chipping the ball is a big difference but even from the rough I have been hitting little jumpers, not big jumpers," added Perry, a 14-times winner on the PGA Tour.

"They are all great players out here and I think guys will adjust in a hurry."


"I think it will be no problem," Yang told Reuters. "Maybe this week, the first tournament of the year, there will be some problem but after three or four months of the players using these V-grooves they will be getting better."

While most top players began experimenting with the new grooves toward the end of last year, it had been widely predicted that flyers from tangly rough would become a much more common occurrence on the leading tours around the world.

"Previously with the square grooves, you'd get these certain lies in the intermediate cut (of rough) or in the rough where it's questionable whether it was going to jump," former Masters champion Zach Johnson said.

"Now it's not questionable; you know it's going to jump. It's just a matter of how much it's going to jump. It's not an advantage. It's just the way it is."

Yang felt next week's Sony Open could present a stiffer test for the players because of the harder, smaller greens at Waialae Country Club.

"This week we have big fairways and therefore it's easier to avoid the rough," Yang said of the PGA Tour's season-opening event being held on the Plantation Course.

"And with 100 (yard) shots, 150 shots there is a lot of spin because the greens here are a little bit soft. The loft may be a little bit different but the ball is still spinning.

"But next week, at the Sony Open on hard greens, maybe it will be very different."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)