Phil Mickelson wants Keegan Bradley to keep his belly putter

Andy Lyons

Keegan Bradley’s mentor, Phil Mickelson, opposes a ban on anchoring

Phil Mickelson, who teamed so successfully with Keegan Bradley during September’s Ryder Cup, believes any effort to strip his young partner of his belly putter would be “grossly unfair.”

The 40-time PGA Tour winner went firmly on the record Wednesday in opposing an expected rule change from golf’s governing bodies that would ban Bradley and other top players from anchoring long putters to their bodies. The USGA and R&G are expected to issue such an edict soon, possibly before the end of the year.

Such a mandate would not sit well with Mickelson, who tinkered with one of Bradley’s toys during last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship.

"I understand both sides. It's just that I don't think you can take away what you've allowed players to use, practice, and play with for 30 years," Mickelson told reporters on the eve of this week’s Singapore Open. "I think it is grossly unfair.”

Last season's rookie of the year, Bradley, has appointed himself a ringleader of a band of belly brigands, including reigning U.S. Open and British Open champs Webb Simpson and Ernie Els, who will not accept a ban without a fight. Els has even threatened legal action, should the rules-makers outlaw his new flat stick of choice.

Mickelson, who has a fondness for adjusting the assortment of clubs in his bag and trying out new putting grips, tinkered with one of Bradley’s toys during last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship. Given that, and the bounce that playing with the 2011 PGA champ in team competitions at Medinah put back in the 42-year-old Californian’s step, it was hardly surprising that Lefty defended a putting method that is anathema to golf’s traditionalists.

"I also understand that it's a better way to putt and all young players should start to putt that way as they get older. It's a more efficient way to putt,” said Mickelson, a day after broomstick proponent Adam Scott weighed in on the hotly contested debate. "I am concerned about some amateur players that use it and I don't want to deter people from the game of golf."

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