Keegan Bradley, the first PGA Tour golfer to win a major with a belly putter, won’t deploy a whole lot of brain power worrying about whether golf’s governing bodies will ban the flat stick he rode to victory at the 2011 PGA Championship. In fact, Bradley said Wednesday, if the USGA and Royal & Ancient take away his Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth, he’ll simply switch back to a conventional blade.
“I putted with a short putter all growing up. I'm not scared at all to have to putt with a short putter,” Bradley told reporters before Thursday’s start of the Bridgestone Invitational, which Adam Scott won last year with an even longer putter. “Belly putter for me is just a comfortable way to putt. I just feel comfortable with it. For some people, they don't.”
Bradley said he believed the USGA and R&A -- which are discussing whether to outlaw the big sticks, or the way golfers maneuver them -- would “make the right decision, whether it’s to ban it or keep it.” Until then, however, the 38th-ranked golfer on tour in strokes gained-putting will go about his business.
“Until that decision is made, it's tough for me to even think about it because I want to putt the way I'm putting,” Bradley said. “But if they make the decision, obviously I'm fine with it.”
Bradley clearly hoped to avoid the nitty-gritty of what the powers-that-be might decide, terming such talk guesswork.
“I've been hearing all sorts of different stuff. It's so hard to really think about what I would do,” he said. “Until they say you can't use it, then I'll have to decide whether I want to putt with a short putter or do it a different way. But for now it's legal, and I try to stay out of it because I don't want to get involved.
“For now, I can putt with the belly putter,” Bradley noted, “and if that day comes where I can't, then I'll have to think about it.”
While there has been a parade of players, including U.S. Open and British Open champions Webb Simpson and Ernie Els, marching into the winner’s circle with their lengthy putters since Bradley’s major triumph last August, the 2011 Rookie of the Year was not about to take the blame for any future prohibition.
“Definitely there's been a lot of belly putters winning. I don't think that that's a bad thing, I just think it all kind of happened at once. It was bound to happen,” Bradley said, pointing out that his generation of golfers has grown up employing putters that formerly were reserved for grizzled veterans desperate to save their careers from the yips. “In the past, I think it was a lot of the older guys who felt they couldn't use anything else. I don't think that's the case for guys like me or Webb or Adam Scott ... I think this generation of player is different and a little more willing to try things, and ... you're just starting to see it now.”