Two major winners say they won’t contest belly putter rule changes

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, two of the major faces in the debate over belly putters, said Tuesday they would not fight a change in the rules if golf’s governing bodies decide to outlaw putters anchored to the body.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, two of the major faces in the debate over belly putters, said Tuesday they would not fight a change in the rules if golf’s governing bodies decide to outlaw putters anchored to the body.

That doesn’t mean they’re in favour of a ban.

“I’m obviously not happy with the ruling, but I respect the USGA, and especially Mike Davis,” Bradley said. “They make the rules, and I’ll adjust appropriately. But I’m going to accept the challenge and hopefully do well when they do ban it.”

Davis, the USGA executive director, and Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson have scheduled a press conference Wednesday morning to announce their conclusions on the future of long putters. All indications point toward a ban on anchoring the club.

At issue is not the putter itself, but whether it can be anchored to the body, such as the stomach (belly putters) or the chest (long putters).

The long putters have been in vogue for the better part of 25 years, though a recent surge in use got the attention of golf’s two governing bodies. Bradley became the first major champion with a belly putter when he won the PGA Championship last year. Simpson won the U.S. Open using a belly putter, and Ernie Els won the British Open with a belly putter, rallying to beat Adam Scott, who uses a long putter he anchors to the top of his chest.

Guan Tianling, the 14-year-old from China, used a belly putter to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur earlier this month to earn a spot in the Masters.

Dawson spoke in July about looking at the anchored putters as a rules issue instead of an equipment issue. If that’s the case and it is banned, it would not take effect until 2016 because the Rules of Golf are only updated every four years.

While a change would affect players like the recent major champions, Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark, several others are opposed to putters stuck into the body. They argue it takes away nervous hands and allows for a smoother stroke.

Tiger Woods is opposed to long putters, and he stated his argument clearly on Tuesday.

“I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves, and having it as a fixed point — as I was saying all year — is something that’s not in the traditions of the game,” Woods said. “We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same. It should be a swinging motion throughout the entire bag.”

Woods said his biggest concern was not so much the major champions, but junior players.

“There have been some guys who had had success out there, and obviously everyone always copies what we out here, and that’s something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted,” he said.

Simpson first switched to a belly putter in 2004 to help with consistency. He found one in a pro shop, gave it a try and noticed immediate improvement. But for all the attention on belly putters, he said it was the accuracy with his driver that helped him win the U.S. Open at Olympic Club this year.

“My argument the whole time is to change something that drastic, it needs to be based off facts and not what certain people think the tradition of the game looks like,” Simpson said. “But look, I’m not going to be one of those guys that says this is a terrible decision. I’m just saying to make a change this big, show me the facts. And hey, they’re the governing body, so we’ll see what happens.”

Simpson already has been practicing with a conventional putter, preparing for such a ban. He said if there is a ban, he would use the conventional putter at home, and then in pro-am rounds and make the switch when he’s comfortable with it.

“I’m just going to take it one step at a time until my comfort level gets better and better,” Simpson said. “If I feel ready by Hyundai (the start of the 2013 season), I’ll be putting with a short putter. And if I don’t feel ready for two years, I’ll wait.”

Bradley said he would be in no rush to make the change if there is a ban.

Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter were among those who lined up against anchored putters earlier this month in Australia. McDowell said the rule should have been changed years ago, and that using an anchored putter “takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke,” which he feels is an advantage under pressure.

Poulter, as usual, was more blunt.

“Ban it. End of story,” Poulter said.

Steve Stricker, regarded as one of the best putters in golf, has picked up a belly putter to see what the rage was all about. And it concerned him.

“It was pretty scary how fast I picked it up, to tell you the truth,” Stricker said. “I went and anchored it just right below my sternum. It was a little different feel for me, but I got pretty consistent pretty quick with it.”

Just Posted

The Latest: UK leader congratulates royals on birth of son

LONDON — The Latest on the royal baby birth: 1:50 p.m. British… Continue reading

Key events in the life of William, Kate and their family

LONDON — The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth Monday to a baby… Continue reading

Broncos families surprised obituaries are on website selling services

Some families of Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims are surprised to learn… Continue reading

‘It’s limitless:’ Paralyzed toddler moves from homemade wheelchair to treadmill

EDMONTON — Evelyn Moore sings the alphabet song as her tiny running… Continue reading

Shania Twain apologizes for saying she would have voted for Donald Trump

Shania Twain is apologizing after telling a British newspaper that she would… Continue reading

Replay Red Deer April 22, 2018

Watch weekly news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Crosby, Penguins keep 3rd straight championship in sight

PHILADELPHIA — Sidney Crosby tormented the Flyers just as he has from… Continue reading

29-year-old chef dies after collapsing at London Marathon

London Marathon organizers say a 29-year-old man died after collapsing near the… Continue reading

Greece beats budget target as it looks to post-bailout era

ATHENS, Greece — Greece has beaten its budget targets for a third… Continue reading

Etiquette and protocol highlights for royal wedding guests

NEW YORK — Grab those nude stockings, ladies. You’ll be at a… Continue reading

Federal environment minister defends BP Canada’s plans to drill in N.S.

HALIFAX — Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna is defending… Continue reading

Facebook’s privacy changes look different for Europeans and Americans

All 2.2 billion people who use Facebook will soon see changes to… Continue reading

Vermont wants to turn tourists into workers

Vermont has forest trails, yoga retreats, breweries galore – and a labor… Continue reading

Trump leading on North Korea, says envoy to Canada as G7 ministers meet

TORONTO — Donald Trump’s envoy to Canada says her president is leading… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month