Bradley sick of being called cheater, tired of ban talk

By Randall MellFebruary 26, 2013, 5:50 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The furor cuts more painfully to Keegan Bradley.

As a guy who thrives using a belly putter, Bradley revealed Tuesday at The Honda Classic just how much the controversy over anchored putting has worn on him.

Bradley said that fan who called him a “cheater” during the World Challenge late last year wasn’t a lone wolf.

With the PGA Tour coming out Sunday against the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club’s proposed ban on anchoring, and with a resolution broiling toward completion, Bradley acknowledged he has struggled with the debate.

“It's been actually pretty difficult, especially lately,” Bradley said. “I'm being called a cheater more than ever by fans, by some writers. It's really tough. I can't imagine how people can say that to me, or to anybody out here. It's been really difficult, and I'm sick of it to be honest.  I'm ready to be over it.”

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Bradley acknowledged he probably reads Twitter too much.

“The word cheater, I mean, it's amazing that people can say that,” Bradley said. “It's probably the worst thing you could ever say to an athlete.”

Bradley has been using a belly putter for about five years. He won the PGA Championship with it at the end of the 2011 season, initiating a run where three of five major championships were won with belly putters. The proposed ban came out at the end of that run.

The 90-day comment period put forth by the USGA and R&A ends Thursday. The governing bodies announced that they will make their determination on whether to implement the rule sometime during this spring.

“It’s a mess,” Bradley said. “It's going to be a mess.

“There's so much hearsay that's going on with this. There's so much media around it that one day I hear one thing, ‘Oh, there's no way it's going to happen,’ and then the next day I hear, ‘It's going to happen next year.’  So I'm going to wait and see. I realize that I'm going to have to deal with it for the next couple years, which I'm fine with, but I do know the Tour has my back, which is helpful.”

That’s how Bradley understood PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s pronouncement Sunday that the Tour is opposed to the proposed ban, though Finchem has yet to say if the Tour would ultimately adopt implementation of such a rule.

“Commissioner Finchem and the PGA Tour (have) always had their players’ backs, no matter how big or small the group is,” Bradley said. “I'm very proud, and it makes me feel good that my Tour, the Tour that I play on, has my back.”

Bradley was pleased both the PGA Tour and PGA of America came out against the proposed ban during the 90-day comment period.

“If they are really taking this comment period seriously, I think they really need to look at what's been said by both those organizations,” Bradley said.

In five official PGA Tour starts since the proposed ban was announced, Bradley has one top-10 finish, a tie for fourth in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He tied for 16th in his last stroke-play start, the Northern Trust Open, and lost to Marcus Fraser in the opening round of last week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play.

“I think a big part of Keegan’s game is that he has a phenomenal heart,” said Jim McLean, Bradley’s swing coach. “This bothers him; I think it weighs on him, but he’s been able to handle it so well because he’s such a super competitor.”

McLean believes Bradley would adapt to a standard putter quickly, but Bradley doesn’t want to putt that way.

“Keegan works at it,” McLean said. “You don’t just grab a belly putter and putt well with it.”

Bradley will be looking to win The Honda Classic with it this week while shutting out all the folks who don’t like the fact that he’s using it.

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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.

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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated,” taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor. Kang made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.