Keegan Bradley: Ban anchored putting now

Matt Sullivan

Keegan Bradley can’t make up his mind about whether to ditch his belly putter now or to wait until the January 2016 anchoring ban. If his mother had his way, the 2011 PGA champion would have made the switch already.

Keegan Bradley, had it been up to him, would have imposed an immediate ban on anchored putting rather than delaying the inevitable until January 2016.

Bradley has been the poster child for the soon-to-be verboten putting stroke since he became the first golfer to win a major with a long blade tethered to a body part (in his case, his non-existent gut). And when the USGA and R&A handed down its ruling little more than a year ago, the 2011 PGA champ was outspoken in his opposition to the move.

"I'm going to do whatever I have to do to protect myself and the other players on tour," Bradley said back in October 2012 before golf’s governing bodies issued their mandate. "I look at it as a whole, as us all together. I don't look at it as much about myself. I think that for them to ban this after we've done what we've done is unbelievable."

Now, though, with the deadline fast approaching for him and three other major champions as well as a score of additional PGA Tour pros to ditch their anchored strokes, Bradley is at a crossroads and does not know what type of flat stick he’ll use in any given tournament.

"I don’t really have a plan, to be honest with you," Bradley told SB Nation during a recent Audemars Piguet-sponsored golf outing at Liberty National Golf Course. "I think it would be easier if they would just ban it right now."

Bradley surprised golf watchers when, for the first time as a PGA Tour professional, he used a shorter putter at the May 29-June 1 Memorial Tournament and went on a birdie barrage to start the event. He said at the time that a suggestion from his mother, Kaye, spurred him to make the switch from his signature 46.75-inch Odyssey XG Sabertooth to a counterbalanced 41-inch version of the same club.

Observers were taken aback again when Bradley showed up at the U.S. Open with the heavy lumber back in the bag.

"I’m messing around kind of casually," said Bradley, one of nine brand "ambassadors" for the Swiss watchmaker who participated in the Audemars Piguet Golf Invitational the day after Martin Kaymer completed a wire-to-wire victory at Pinehurst.

"I used the shorty at Memorial and at the U.S. Open I putted horribly [using] the belly," said Bradley, who finished T37 at the Memorial and T4 at the Open. "So I’m kind of in the middle zone now."

While the 2011 PGA Tour rookie of the year may be confused about which Odyssey to use and whether to anchor or not, for sure his mother harbors no doubts.

"She doesn’t give me golf advice ever," said Bradley, whose father Mark is a PGA pro in Wyoming. "She just said, ‘think about using the short putter,’ and it turned out to be a good idea.

"She knows it weighs on my mind," Bradley added. "I think she realizes that it could be important for me to get that out of my system."

With all eyes this week on Tiger Woods as he makes his return to competitive golf after nearly four months on the DL, what putter Keegan Bradley has in his bag at the Quicken Loans National will likely go unnoticed by most. But not by Kaye Bradley.

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