KEEGAN BRADLEY last night accused world golf's governing bodies of putting an 'X' on his back.
Bradley, wielding his belly-putter in anger for the first time since Wednesday's unveiling of a rule to ban 'anchoring' from 2016, shot a defiant three-under 69 to claim a share of second with Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk at Tiger's World Challenge.
The US Ryder Cup star made an emotional plea when asked about the long-putter issue: "I just hope people will look at Webb Simpson and myself for the players that we are and continue to appreciate what we've accomplished.
"The USGA (and R&A) have put an 'X' on our back and I don't know if that's exactly fair," added Bradley, the first man to win a Major with a long putter at the 2011 PGA. Simpson followed-up at last June's US Open, with Ernie Els making it three out of five at Lytham.
Nick Watney surged into a two-shot lead with his 67, the only bogey-free round of an overcast opening day.
McDowell opened with nine two-putt pars. After back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12, he dropped a shot on 14 before making two raking birdie putts on 17 and 18.
Tiger shared third with Simpson and Bo Van Pelt on two-under.
In South Africa, Nedbank Challenge rookies Bill Haas and Nicolas Colsaerts led the elite field with two-under-par 70s, one ahead of Lee Westwood.
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