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By Kevin Currie, Golf Editor - Archive - Email
Bradley ready for a fight
Keegan Bradley said he would challenge any rule stating he cannot use his long putter.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As if we didn't know it before the Ryder Cup, Keegan Bradley can be a fierce competitor, and now it looks as though he's aiming for a fight off the course.

The 2011 PGA Champion was interviewed by Golfweek this week in China, and Bradley said he would challenge any rule stating he cannot use his long putter.

"I'm going to do whatever I have to do to protect myself and the other players on tour. I look at it as a whole, as us all together. I don't look at it as much about myself," Bradley told the magazine. "I think that for them to ban this after we've done what we've done is unbelievable."

Bradley has used his long putter since his college days and last year became the first player to win a major championship using a long putter.

If Bradley were to sue the United States Golf Association and/or Royal & Ancient, he would set in motion the most important lawsuit versus the governing bodies since Ping sued the USGA and R&A over the grooves on its new irons.

Ping forged its Ping Eye-2 irons with square grooves that the two golf associations said were too closely spaced, and thus would create more spin on a golf ball. That lawsuit was eventually dropped by Ping after its clubs were grandfathered in.

That lawsuit battled the USGA, which was formed in 1894, and Ping Golf, which was founded in 1959. Both sides had millions of dollars in reserve if the lawsuit went on for years.

Bradley, who joined the tour in 2011, has earned nearly $7.7 million on the course, and likely millions more in sponsorship dollars off the course.

His bank roll pales in comparison to what the USGA and R&A could throw at him. If Bradley indeed is battling "as us all together," he'll likely need financial help from those golfers, some of whom could provide millions of dollars to the cause.

Is the fight really worth it? To the long putter and belly-putter devotees, it could fundamentally change their games.

This isn't a fight about forcing a player to, say, switch from Titleist to Nike, it is about forcing a player to use a different length club that he may not be able to master.

There are those who have used the long putter for a decade or more, and feel as though they would struggle to keep their tour card if forced to switch back to the short putter.

And that is the crux of the battle. The PGA and European Tours would not be involved in this battle. The USGA and R&A create the rules of the game, and the aforementioned tours abide by them.

Using Bradley as an example, he has three PGA Tour wins, including last year's PGA Championship, and is exempt through the 2017 season.

What happens to him in 2018 if he isn't able to putt well enough with a short putter to keep his tour card? That is the gray area. The rules associations are not the tours these players need to keep their cards on.

The tours will abide by what rules are handed down, and it is up to the players to adjust. But if it costs just one player his tour card, that is one too many.

Bradley, and others are likely to join him, will have to battle for the right to keep their long putters.

The simple solution would be to allow any player currently using a long putter, or belly putter, to keep it the remainder of his career. Then make it so that any player not currently competing on a major golf tour would need to use a short putter once they join said tour.

That would allow those using it to keep their long putters and force others to adjust. Is that the perfect solution? Not at all. However, for golf purists, there may not be a right answer in this fight.

SANDY COULD IMPACT 2013 GOLF SEASON

Millions of homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. And dozens of golf courses took it on the chin as well.

Having played Bethpage Black two weeks ago, and seeing how great a shape the course was in, it was unnerving to see this announcement: "Due to conditions caused by Hurricane Sandy, Bethpage State Park will be closed until further notice."

Bethpage hosted The Barclays in August, but that event is scheduled to be at Liberty National next year ... if the course superintendent is a magician.

This picture of the course is from Tuesday.

Oak Hill is the site of next year's PGA Championship, and it suffered plenty of tree damage. Check out this gallery.

Seaview, which hosts the LPGA Tour, has a memo on its website that the course will be closed through Friday. Having played there this year, I recall several holes that could have taken on massive amounts of water as they are along the back bays outside Atlantic City.

It is far too early to tell if those courses will be able to bounce back in time to host their events, but the course superintendents have their work cut out.

Good luck, not only to them, but to everyone affected by the storm.

MINI-TIDBITS

* Rory McIlroy is not renewing his contract with Titleist and is reportedly signing with Nike. Some are making a big deal over it, but I don't think it's a big deal. It was huge when Tiger made the move to Nike because the company was so new to golf. Now, Nike has some of the top-selling irons.

* Through this year's PGA Championship, Greg Chalmers had five top-20 finishes in 22 events. Starting at The Barclays, he has had four in his last five tournaments. Seems as though the Australian likes late-season golf.


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