Monday 21 October 2019

Harrington swallows belly pride but stills shoots 80

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington

Phil Casey

TEN months after wishing anchored putters would swiftly be banned, Padraig Harrington today used one in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship.

And despite shooting an eight-over-par 80 - his long game was more to blame - the three-time major winner said he would consider sticking with a belly putter until the proposed ban on anchored strokes comes into effect in 2016.


"The R&A and USGA support the rules of golf and (anchoring) is well within the rules," Harrington told reporters at Quail Hollow.


"I think (anchoring) is bad for the game of golf. But if something's going to help me for the next three and a half years I'm going to use it.


"It's the same as the box (square) grooves. It's hurt me deeply having the box grooves banned. I knew it wasn't good for my game, but it was for the good of the game.


"For the majority, I believe anchoring shouldn't be there. It doesn't look good. The commentators are talking about it. You (the media) are talking about it now. It's a story, just like the grooves.


"As much as the grooves cost me dearly, I know nobody wants to talk about that now. Six months after they were gone, nobody talked about it. It will be the same with the putter. Once it's banned, six months later everybody will move on.


"And there is no doubt there are individuals that it's going to be tough on (Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott have won four of the past six majors between them using anchored putters).


"But it cost me a couple of shots a day, at least a shot a day, not having the box grooves because that's my style of game. So it's not like it hasn't happened before. But for the game, I definitely think that I don't agree with anchoring at all."


Speaking after Els' Open Championship win at Royal Lytham last year, Harrington said he was expecting a ban, adding: "I just hope that they don't wait too long - I hope they don't wait until I'm 50 years of age to change the rule."


The R&A and USGA - the game's governing bodies - subsequently proposed a ban only for Harrington, who is an R&A 'Working for Golf' ambassador, to reveal on his website that he would be using a belly putter today.


Proponents of anchored putters have opposed the ban, claiming there is no reason for it now after long putters have been in use since the 1980s.


"The fact is, if somebody invented the belly putter tomorrow, it would not pass," Harrington added at last year's Open. "I think we could all agree with that.


"The only reason it got through is the people that used it 20 years ago were coming to the end of their careers and people would have been sympathetic and didn't want to finish Bernhard Langer's career by telling him you can't hold it like this, you can't attach it to your arm."

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