Franklin Templeton Shootout: Keegan Bradley quizzed about anchoring ban in chat with junior golfers

Keegan Bradley on anchoring ban

Interview from Tiburon Golf Club.

Keegan Bradley may have hoped it wasn't coming. But it only took three questions.

At a talk in front of junior golfers and parents at Tiburon Golf Club on Tuesday, one of the youngsters piped up to ask the Franklin Templeton Shootout co-defending champion what he thought about the United States Golf Association's ban on anchored putters.

"Oh boy," Bradley said as the crowd of 100 laughed. "This is a tough topic for me because I have to be careful of what I say."

Bradley, who won the PGA Championship last year, is among a handful of players who use putters that they "anchor" to their stomachs during the stroke. Reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Ernie Els, who won the British Open after switching to the method this summer, also use the approach.

Last Wednesday, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club proposed a rule change banning anchoring of putters on Jan. 1, 2016. Bradley played in Tiger Woods' World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., last week. After one round, a heckler called Bradley a cheater. On Twitter, another told him to get his Burger King application ready in 2016.

"I personally, obviously don't agree with the ban," Bradley told the crowd Tuesday night. "I'm not going to sit here and say I agree with the USGA. But I do respect what the USGA is doing and what they're trying to do. It doesn't mean that I agree with it, but they're trying to protect the game in the best way that they think. I don't think what they're doing is exactly right because it does affect some of us professionals and the way we make a living, so it's a little difficult."

Bradley shared some memories of this year's Ryder Cup, and had plenty of advice for the junior golfers on how to approach the game, and that there isn't a definitive career path to make it out on a professional tour.

But the anchoring ban turned out to be the chief topic, and Bradley even had some fun with it later when asked what was his favorite club in his bag.

"My favorite club is probably my putter because the USGA hates it so much," he said as the crowd laughed.

Bradley, who finished second Sunday behind Graeme McDowell, realizes that the proposed ban isn't necessarily cut and dried as far as the PGA Tour is concerned. The tour said that it would review the proposal, and it would be a point of discussion at its annual player meeting on Jan. 22 in San Diego. There's also the three years before it would be enacted.

"I putted with a conventional putter up until I was a professional," he said. "I only putted with one for five years. There are guys on tour — Carl Pettersson has putted with it for 20, which is unbelievable that all of a sudden they're told they can't use something that they've probably put hundreds and hundreds of hours of practice in.

"I haven't put much stock in what I'm going to do because it just happened, and it's still three years away. I'm still going to use this putter for another couple of years. I love that it causes controversy because whenever there's controversy it means you're doing something — on one side, you're doing something right. The more putts I make with this putter, the crazier it's going to make people. I hope that this is going to be a huge issue because I hope I'm going to be making as many putts as possible."

As for advice for junior golfers, he emphasized that they didn't have to play in tournament after tournament and go across the country in order to make it on the PGA Tour. Bradley, who grew up in Vermont and went to non-golf power St. John's, is living proof of that.

"There's different ways to get to the PGA Tour," he said.

At the same time, Bradley pointed out that working hard was necessary to get there.

"The guys like Tiger Woods, like Rory (McIlroy), like Graeme (McDowell), they put the work in," he said.

Bradley talked about working with sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella, and used an example of how to recover from a bad shot.

"The great players? It's gone," he said. "Once they hit that shot, it's gone. They accept it. ... It's easy for somebody to get upset and get mad, and not be mentally ready to hit that next shot."

Bradley tries to keep himself in that mindset, and said, believe it or not, he never gets nervous on the first tee, and hardly ever on the golf course. But he admitted it was difficult on the first day of the Ryder Cup. On the driving range, he kept thinking about just simply getting his tee shot on No. 1 airborne and not hurting anyone. Then the crowd started chanting his name as he and playing partner Phil Mickelson came to the tee box.

"I can't express to you this feeling; it's unbelievable," Bradley said. " ... I've been fortunate enough to win a major and a couple of other tournaments, and it's nothing like playing in the Ryder Cup."

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