Bradley becomes first to win major with long putter

Bradley becomes first to win major with long putter

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Bradley becomes first to win major with long putter

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Keegan Bradley became the first to win one of golf’s four major championships with a belly or long putter, and Brendan Steele, Jim Furyk and Adam Scott contended with longer-than-conventional putters. There is no denying the trend here, and Bradley’s victory was the fifth on the 2011 PGA Tour by a player using a belly or long putter (two by Bradley and one each by Scott, Steele and Martin Laird).

Belly putters often are referred to as midlength, while long putters generally are several inches longer than the belly variety. Scott uses a 50-inch Titleist Scotty Cameron Kombi long putter, while Bradley’s Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth belly putter is 46.75 inches.

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Although Bradley was quoted as saying his Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth is 46.25 inches, Odyssey tour rep Johnny Thompson insists the length is 46.75. Thompson should know: Bradley asks Thompson to check the loft (3 degrees) and lie (67.5 degrees) before every event.

Belly and long putters have one thing in common besides their extra length: They are anchored against the body. With a belly putter, the butt end of the grip is stuck into the stomach near the belly button. With a long putter, the anchoring arm is placed against the chest.

There are other ways to use these putters. Matt Kuchar secures the shaft against his forearm. Sam Torrance places the end of the grip under his chin.When Angel Cabrera won the Masters in 2009, he used a 39-inch Ping i Series 1/2 Craz-E putter but did not anchor it against his body in any way.

Bradley refers to his Odyssey belly putter as “The Tooth,” short for Sabertooth. He has used this particular model for more than a year, dating to the 2010 Nationwide Tour. Before that, Bradley used other belly putters. He was fit initially by Danny Day, a friend in Orlando, Fla., who worked for Rife Putters.

Although Bradley’s putter is extremely flat and his eyes are several inches inside a line extending upward from his golf ball (Scotty Cameron says 1 inch inside the line is perfect), Bradley said he feels comfortable with his method. At this year’s RBC Canadian Open, he played with a more upright putter in an attempt to get his eyes over the ball. The experiment failed, and he returned immediately to the original Odyssey.

Orville Moody was the first player to win a big tournament with a long putter when he captured the 1989 U.S. Senior Open.

“Personally, I think that it’s an easier way to putt,” Bradley said. “Especially when there’s some nerves. . . . It’s just very, very comfortable to me.”

With Bradley winning a major title, will belly and long putters provide even more fun for more golfers?

“Sure, there is interest from the touring pros,” said Chris McGinley, Titleist’s vice president of golf club marketing, “but we don’t see any movement at the consumer level right now.”

Odyssey, though, is gearing up for increased demand. Odyssey’s 2-Ball putters are available in mid and long lengths, and the company is about to add mid and long D.A.R.T. putters. There are no plans to sell longer versions of the Sabertooth.

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