USGA responds to Bradley 'cheater' incident


U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis admittedly expected “short-term angst” when the governing bodies announced a proposed rule earlier this week that would ban the anchored stroke in 2016.

Sure enough, on Saturday at the World Challenge, Keegan Bradley was accused by a spectator of being a “cheater” because he uses a belly putter.

A day later, the USGA strongly and swiftly condemned the act.

“This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior,” the statement reads. “As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary. Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a Rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the Rules of Golf.

“We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator. Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the Rules of Golf.

“While we understand that the proposed rules change would cause some short-term angst, we believe the new rule would serve the long-term best interest of the game.”

Asked about the incident after his round Saturday, Bradley said, “(That) was no fun. That’s unfortunate. It’s very disrespectful. But it’s fine with me. I’ve got to try and look at it as motivation to help me try to win this tournament.”

Bradley enters Sunday’s final round at Sherwood Country Club two strokes behind leader Graeme McDowell