Keegan Bradley has made no secret of his displeasure with golf’s governing bodies’ proposal to ban anchored putting on Jan. 1, 2016. But here’s the thing about the way Bradley, reigning U.S. and British Open champs Webb Simpson and Ernie Els, and a slew of other pros navigate belly and longer putters — jamming a flat stick into your gut, sternum, or nose is still permissible under the rules of golf.
Apparently Dan Hicks didn’t get the memo. As the NBC broadcaster chatted with Johnny Miller during Sunday’s second aborted attempt to start the 2013 golf season at the Tournament of Champions, Matt Kuchar stepped up to a par putt on the 11th green of the Plantation Course.
With the top of his long putter shaft steadied along his left forearm and, shirt and trousers flapping in the near-50-mph winds, the 2012 Players champion smoothly rolled the ball into the center of the cup. Kuchar’s effort prompted Hicks to inform viewers that Kooch’s method “is legal because it is not anchored to the body.”
Miller was quick to amend his commentating cohort’s statement.
“It’ll continue to be legal,” said the immodest two-time major champion, who did not let the moment pass without pointing out he “was the first guy to start using [a long putter] and win with one.”
“Yeah, continue to be legal under the new rule, if and when it does go into effect,” he said.
Would it surprise anyone if yahoos like the spectator who charged Bradley with cheating during Tiger Woods’ World Challenge event take Hicks’ careless remark as license to heckle the New Englander and his belly-putting brethren? Incidents like the one Bradley weathered last month — as well as ongoing discussions about a putting stroke that makes purists gag — may push the tour to enact its own ban sooner than the USGA and R&A’s proposed date.
In the meantime, Bradley anchored his Odyssey White Hot Sabertooth belly bat into contention after the Tourney of Champs finally kicked off on Monday. After 36 holes on what should have been the contest’s finishing day, the pride of Woodstock, Vt., was at 6-under and tied for fourth with Brandt Snedeker — five shots back of leader Dustin Johnson.