Bradley ready to fight for his putts

Keegan Bradley won’t be giving up his long putter without a fight.

If the US Golf Association and the R&A outlaw the anchoring stroke, as expected, that is used with the increasingly popular long putters, the 2011 PGA champion says he would challenge a ban, perhaps with legal action.

Bradley, who was the first player to win a major title with the putter anchored against his body, said here at the HSBC Champions that he intends to take a stand against a ban that is expected by golf’s ruling bodies within months.

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

Ernie Els, an early opponent of the anchoring stroke, changed his thinking as he aged and lost his short-putting prowess. Since having won the 2012 Open Championship by using a putter anchored against his body, the Hall of Fame member still was reluctant to support the anchored stroke. After conversations with Tim Clark and others who anchor, Els is moving toward supporting his anchoring brethren.

“They’re going to have a couple of legal matters coming their way,” Els said here, indicating the USGA and R&A. “It’s going to be a bit of an issue now. I’ve been against it, but since I’ve been using it, it still takes a lot of practice, and you have to perfect your own way of putting with this belly.”

Two weeks ago in Sea Island, Ga., after USGA chief Mike Davis pitched the proposed ban to the PGA Tour’s Policy Board, Davis Love III predicted possible player opposition.

“I would be concerned, if I was them, because you’ve got a bunch of guys that are going to want to fight it,” said Love, a Policy Board member and the recent Ryder Cup captain. “Not the tour, but the players individually. A bunch of players that aren’t going to like it.”

If the dispute were to land in the courts, it wouldn’t be the first time the USGA has faced legal opposition to a rules change. More than two decades ago, Ping sued the USGA after the body that governs the game in the United States and Mexico banned the company’s Ping Eye2 irons, which featured large-volume U-shaped grooves. In 1990, Ping reached an out-of-court settlement with the USGA, allowing the company’s clubs built before April 1, 1990, to be conforming for competition. In 1993, Ping settled with the PGA Tour.

Despite the possibility of a legal showdown with some of the game’s top players, the USGA intends to enforce what it believes to be best for the game.

“If all of a sudden we think there is something that is right for the game of golf and that may involve future litigation, the mind-set is, if this is the right thing to do, we need to do it and just let things fall where they are,” Davis said at the Open Championship earlier this year. “That’s one of the reasons — not the only reason, but it’s one of the reasons — we have a good investment portfolio, because we want to be able to do the right thing, and we don’t want to be influenced by fear.”