• Quail Hollow Championship

Padraig uses belly putter (but still wants them banned)

May 3, 2013
Padraig Harrington is looking to get his game back in order © Getty Images

Padraig Harrington believes that anchored putting strokes should be banned and is fully behind the pending proposal to outlaw the method. But that did not stop him from using a belly putter on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Harrington, 41, a three-time major champion, practiced with a belly putter recently and used it for the first time in competition at Quail Hollow Golf Club, where he shot a first-round 80.

"For the game, I definitely don't agree with anchoring at all,'' Harrington said.

Both the United States Golf Association and R&A issued a joint proposal in November to ban anchored strokes, which are commonly used with a belly putter or long putter. The ban, however, would not go into effect until January 1, 2016.

A subsequent three-month comment period on the proposal ensued, with the arguments sometimes contentious.

The PGA Tour and PGA of America are opposed to the ban; the European Tour, LPGA Tour and various other golf organisations are in favour.

The USGA makes the rules for the United States and Mexico, while the R&A governs the rest of the world. They are expected to make a final announcement on the proposal in a matter of weeks.

"I think it's bad for the game of golf,'' Harrington said. "[But] I'm going to use everything, if something's going to help me for the next three and a half years, I'm going to use it.

"It's the same as the box grooves [square grooves in irons that have been outlawed]. It's hurt me deeply having the box grooves banned, but I knew it wasn't for the good of my game; it was the good of their game.''

Harrington has 21 worldwide victories, his last on the PGA Tour coming at the 2008 PGA Championship. He has two top-10s this year but missed the cut at the Masters.

He is also an ambassador for the R&A but said there was no awkwardness for him in using the putter.

"The R&A support the rules of golf, and it's well within the rules,'' said Harrington, who struggled with his putter on Thursday, needing 32 putts. "If I hit it into the middle of the trees and I'm stuck behind it and I'm in trouble and I get free relief off the cart path, I'm going to take it. There is no doubt. [But] I don't support the belly putter.''

Harrington said he went to it somewhat by accident.

"I've been working hard on my putting stroke for a good while. But the last month I've been, you know, the putting lab thing that measures your putting, so I've been working on that for a good while, and my putting stroke has been coming around. I was bored last Monday week, and I was like, 'Oh, I wonder what that looks like,' and I was surprised to see everything was better. In terms of the mechanics, it was a far better stroke.

"Obviously, feel is an issue when you haven't used it before, but it was great yesterday. It wasn't very good today, but I will use it again tomorrow, no doubt. I just wasn't quite as comfortable, which I kind of knew was coming. The grip of my normal putter is open and the grip of this is square, so I'm not quite used to it yet. There was a bit of resetting when I was over the ball, which, obviously, I prefer not to have. But that's just familiarity, and it will be interesting to give it another go tomorrow.''

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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