Bradley heckled for doing what is still considered legal
Delayed implementation of the ban on the anchored putting stroke means more scenes like this are likely
Published on Monday, Dec. 03, 2012 09:59AM EST
Keegan Bradley found himself the target of a heckler during Saturday’s third round of the World Challenge event in California. The heckler accused the former PGA champion of being a cheater for using an anchored stroke with his long putter.
Bradley, and several other players, have been under the spotlight since the USGA and R&A proposed banning putters being anchored to a player’s chest, stomach or chin. The unfortunate thing is that the ban would not come into effect until 2016 at the earliest, which leaves open the door for players to continue using the anchored stroke without penalty. That opens the door to more incidents such as this and players being labelled as cheaters, something the USGA was quick to denounce.
“This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behaviour,” the USGA said in a statement. “As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the rules of golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke.
“There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary.”
“We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator,” the USGA added. “Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the rules of golf.”
Bradley, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour, said he had never been heckled before until Saturday’s incident.
“I’ve never heard anything negative,” the 26-year-old said. “But I look forward to hopefully making everything (in Sunday’s final round) with that belly putter and hopefully it (the criticism) will get a little louder.”
Asked if he had responded to the fan who heckled him, Bradley replied: “No. You know, that’s unfortunate. It’s very disrespectful.
“But it’s fine with me. I’ve got to try to look at it as motivation to help me try to win this tournament.”
Bradley ended up finishing second to Graeme McDowell as the Tiger Woods hosted event.
MASHED POTATO: World Challenge winner Graeme McDowell said he feels for someone like Bradley and others who are going to employ the anchored stroke for the next few years until the ban comes into effect. McDowell not only came to Bradley’s defence but he also expressed his desire for an end to all of the silly shouts and phrases uttered by fans outside the ropes.
“You know, being called a cheater when you're obviously not cheating is not a lot of fun ...I feel for the guys, no doubt about it,” said McDowell. “They're well within their rights to keep using the long putter. I have no problem with it ...And let's hope there's not too much more of that going on out there. I'm kind of fed up with all this "mashed potatoes" and all this rubbish that the crowd are kind of enjoying shouting right now.
Keegan had a guy out there who was -- after every shot he was yabba dabba doing and it was just stupid. It's something for the players, it's not a lot of fun and it's kind of becoming a little bit of a cool thing to do for the spectators. It kind of gives them their two or three seconds of fame. But it gets a little frustrating for everyone.”
BUILDING A BETTER MOUSE TRAP: Two days after the USGA and R&A announced their ban on the anchored stroke, golf equipment manufacturer Odyssey announced plans to sell the Metal-X Arm Lock Putter which the company claims “conforms to the anticipated ruling and offers an alternative method of stabilizing the putter through a natural-feeling extension of the golfer’s arm.”
The Odyssey Metal-X #7 and the Metal-X DART will allow golfers to extend the shaft and grip up their lead forearm, similar to Matt Kuchar’s putting stroke which was deemed legal by the governing bodies.
“We have been working toward solutions for the proposed ban on the anchoring technique for some time now, and working with our Tour players, have identified an alternative and Tour-proven putting method,” said Chris Koske, Global Director, Odyssey Golf. “We’re now moving quickly to deliver the Arm Lock products that promote a stable and consistent putting stroke for both Professionals and amateur golfers.”
Odyssey says the Arm Lock Putter will hit stores in January 2013 with a suggested retail price of $189.99 (US).
Sales of long and belly putters have been on the increase the past few years, which for some companies has been a nice addition to the bottom line in an industry that has been suffering from the economic downturn of the last few years. One of the arguments against the ban was that it would hurt equipment sales among recreational golfers.
FOOTING THE BILL: It was pointed out over the weekend that Tiger Woods had to dig into his own pocket to fund the World Challenge event. According to Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press, the loss of title sponsor Chevron coupled with the fact that a deal with a potential new sponsor fell through at the last minute forced Tiger to cough up $4-million of his own money to join presenting sponsor Northwestern Mutual in covering the operating costs. Woods started this event back in 1999 as a chance to bring together top players from around the world for a tournament that doesn’t count in terms of PGA victories but hands out world golf ranking points while helping to raise money for the Tiger Woods Foundation.
CHEATERS NEVER PROSPER: Accusations of inappropriate language and cheating against a top player has plunged the prestigious Wimbledon Park Golf Club in south west London, England into turmoil. According to the Daily Mail, some of the club’s 800 members, which includes some very high profile businessmen, have threatened to turn in their membership unless the club champion is “thrown out on his ear” for cheating.
The accusations are nothing new against this particular member, who is not named in the article. Seems he was previously suspended from the club for cheating only to be reinstated after taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights. He’s also been accused of kicking his own ball out of the rough and “flipping his marker two feet nearer the hole”. Just last fall, this same player was accused of pocketing an opponents ball while looking for it during a club competition. Even the member’s dog has been accused of allegedly stealing a lady members ball from a green, which prompted the accusation of foul language.
In an added twist, a member who has been circulating emails regarding the cheating allegations has instead been asked to leave the club, much to the chagrin of the alleged cheater.
CHIP SHOT: Tiger Woods’ infamous chip at the 2005 Masters gave us Verne Lundquist’s “In your life have you ever seen anything like that” quote... well, Sunday at the World Challenge event, Graeme McDowell produced one of those golf ball logo lingering shots...
“In my humble opinion, the Old Course is the one place that should be left untouched by any golf course architect’s knife. It is unique and, despite many attempts, can never be replicated anywhere in the world. It is quite possibly the worst spectating course on the planet, yet the R&A and Links Trust are powerless to do anything about that. So what gives them the right now to make the decision to do nip and tucks here, there and everywhere around the course?” -- Martin Dempster of the Scotsman on the decision to overhaul nine holes at the fabled Old Course at St. Andrews.
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report