Anchor ban makes Keegan Bradley a marked man

Stephen Dunn

Criticized via Twitter, Bradley hopes says he hopes to quiet the jeers this week at Tiger's tourney.

Keegan Bradley can’t help but believe that golf’s governing bodies had him in mind when they lowered the boom on the anchored putting stroke.

“I feel like the USGA has really put an X on our back and really shined a light on us, and I don't know if that's exactly fair,” Bradley, who’s become the poster boy for players who favor long flat sticks, told reporters after scoring a 3-under 69 in Thursday’s first round of Tiger Woods’ World Challenge.

Bradley, who’s hearing it from critics for his outspoken advocacy of long putters, was responding to Wednesday’s pronouncement from the USGA and R&A that wedging the ends of flat sticks into golfers’ bellies or chests would violate the Rules of Golf come 2016. The first PGA Tour player to win a major with a belly putter in the bag, the 2011 PGA champ wanted fans to realize that he, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, and the legion of golfers who wield the long wands have done nothing wrong.

“I just hope that people look at us for the type of players that we are and the accomplishments that we've had and not because we use a belly putter, and now the USGA says it's going to be illegal,” Bradley added. “When we started putting with it, they were legal, and they still are. It's a sticky situation, and I hope people can see through that.”

The wise guys out there who believe the anchor ban will put Bradley out of business have only served to fire up last year’s rookie of the year.

“It would be great to go off and really play well here and kind of – I've been catching such flak on Twitter and these other places, it would be good to kind of quiet them a little bit,” said Bradley, who’ll enter Friday’s second round in a three-way tie for second place, two shots behind Nick Watney. “I had a guy yesterday telling me to send my application into Burger King for 2016. It always feels good to play well, but this feels better almost.”

Bradley, who toyed with his putter resting on his left arm a la Matt Kuchar (a legal stroke even after the rule changes) on the practice green after his round, had some fun with the tourney host prior to the day’s festivities. Indeed, the three-time tour winner believed the regulators might change their decision if they could see Woods trying to maneuver a lengthy mallet.

“You don't want to see Tiger putt with that putter,” Bradley joked. “If it was up to me, I'd film him and send that to [USGA executive director] Mike Davis, and I think he would take the ban off.”

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