x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Keegan Bradley gives belly putter a first major title

The belly putter enjoyed a first major win on Sunday when Bradley Keegan claimed the US PGA title

Keegan Bradley with his belly putter, which helped him win the US PGA Championship on Sunday.
Keegan Bradley with his belly putter, which helped him win the US PGA Championship on Sunday.

The big winners in golf this month were not just Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott.

The rookie American won the US PGA Championship on Sunday, at his first appearance in a major championship, and the Australian followed up his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational triumph the week before with a seventh-place finish in Atlanta, Georgia.

But, equally, it will be the manufacturers of golf clubs who have really been rubbing their hands in glee since the events at the Atlanta Athletic Club, just after they put the telephone down to order thousands more belly putters to be made.

Bradley was the first player to win a major with the long putter, a club which seemingly has cured Scott's long-standing woes on the greens.

And it would be fair to suggest that neither player would have had these successes if they had not decided to go with a club that is growing in popularity with players, if not the traditionalists of the game.

Johnny Miller turned up at the 1980 LA Open with a long putter and was laughed at. Nobody is laughing now.

Bradley beat his compatriot Jason Dufner in a three-hole play-off at the US PGA, using a forty six and three-quarter inch (1.187m) Odyssey White Hot to sink three birdies in a four-hole span, including a 35-foot putt on the par-three 17th hole to tie Dufner on eight under in regulation.

"Personally, I think that it's an easier way to putt," said the 26-year-old Bradley.

"Especially when there are some nerves. It's just very, very comfortable for me.

"It's not rare these days. I was in a group of three on the Nationwide Tour last year and all the guys had unconventional putters. It happened all the time.

"I think for guys that have putted for a really long time with conventional putters, it's difficult for them to use a long putter.

"For a guy that's 40 years old and has been playing with a short putter for 35 years, they grab the thing and it's a bizarre feeling.

"For me, it was really easy. It just clicked right away. For the younger players, I think it's easier for them to switch."

It is in the rules so anyone can legitimately switch their putter if it does their game any good.

But there will always be controversy.

The long putter allows a player to rest the shaft against his body, be it chin, chest or stomach, which it could be argued, and is, reducing the chance of the player mishitting a putt.

"I probably was one of those people who thought the long putter should be banned," Scott said.

"But it's within the rules at the moment, and I'm very happy about that."

As are Callaway, Nike, Ping, TaylorMade ….

ncameron@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE