Ernie Els was going to shelve his belly putter after last week’s Masters. Instead, the guy who finished third at Augusta in putts per hole (1.53, according to Jonathan Wall), will continue his anchoring odyssey for the foreseeable future.
"I think I was No. 1 in putting last week," Els told reporters Wednesday, on the eve of the RBC Heritage. "I really worked with Sherylle [Calder], my putting lady, and she got the message across what she wanted me to do and I really started feeling it. I was going to go with the shorter version this week, but I putted so nicely with it last week, I'm going to keep going with the belly."
Els came in T13 at the Masters, eight strokes behind Adam Scott, whom he bested in a battle of anchorers at the British Open in July. After a stellar week on the tricky greens of Augusta, Els said the pending ban on his putting stroke would not deter him from changing his mind once again about using the belly bat.
The four-time major champion originally opposed long putters but did a 180 after adding one to his repertoire and saying, “As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.” Then he stated he would retire the Odyssey White Hot XG No. 7 after the Masters, but changed course ahead of this week's PGA Tour event.
"I'm really getting comfortable with both versions," said Els, who tinkered with a putter of conventional length, an Odyssey Black Series model, during the WGC-Cadillac Championship and employed it for three rounds of the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand.
"Back in most of my career I played very well with the short putter. I feel I can do that again,” he said. “But it's going so well with the belly, I don't want to stop until they ban it."
About his variable views on anchoring, Els conceded he had done an about-face, wished he had employed a different term to explain his opinion, but avowed he was firmly in the pro-anchoring camp now.
“I probably used the wrong word there, in using the word ‘cheating,’” he said. “I think I have to support it. I've been using it, and it definitely helped my game....I want to support that way of putting, because I feel it's become part of the game.”