Updated at: 11/01/2012 2:35 PM
By JUSTIN BERGMAN
(AP) SHENZHEN, China - Keegan Bradley is gearing up to fight the governing bodies of golf if they decide to ban the long putter, and the American is hoping others will rally around the cause, too.
"I’m going to do whatever it takes to protect myself and the guys on tour," Bradley said Thursday after his opening round at the HSBC Champions at Mission Hills.
"I just think they’d be taking away hours and hours of my practice and guys other than me that have used it and I think that’d be a shame. I think the USGA and R&A’s goal is to attract players to the game and I think this would be pushing players away."
Bradley became the first player to win a major using a long putter when he captured the PGA Championship last year. Since then, Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open and Ernie Els triumphed at the British Open. All three used belly putters.
Adam Scott, the runner-up to Els at the British Open, used a long putter he anchored to his chest.
So far, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and U.S. Golf Association haven’t said publicly which way they are leaning on the putters.
A day after Els’ victory at the British Open, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said long putters were "firmly back on the radar" and that a decision could be expected in a matter of months.
Golfweek magazine also reported that USGA executive director Mike Davis met with the PGA Tour’s policy board last month to discuss a possible ban. Davis has said a decision is likely by the end of the year, though he stressed the USGA and R&A have not yet made up their minds.
If a ban is announced, it would likely not take effect until 2016 because the rules of golf are changed only every four years.
Bradley wouldn’t speculate on what kind of challenge he would launch, but he said the issue is gaining traction among the players.
"The players that will be affected have the same feelings that I do," he said.
Carl Pettersson, who has used a long putter his entire PGA career, said he’d be at a distinct disadvantage if the rules change.
"If they ban it, I feel like I’m 16 years behind practicing with a short putter and it would just be a shame," he said. "I think it’s a pure reaction to a couple guys winning majors _ it was going to happen sooner or later."
Pettersson said he’d even support possible legal action against the governing bodies, if it came to that.
"Yeah, definitely," he said. "It doesn’t affect everybody so I think it’s a little bit unfair to be honest with you."
Adam Scott, who also plays with a long putter, questioned whether players who use the club really have an advantage that necessitates banning it.
"My point right off for the whole thing is, what is their criteria for banning anchoring putting or whatever you want to call it? I don’t know. No one’s given me a good reason yet," the Australian said.
Bradley said if such a move comes, he’d at least expect the USGA to talk to him about it first. But nobody has approached him or any other player he knows.
Pettersson reported the same thing.
"I figured if they were going to do their research, or whatever, they should probably speak to a few guys playing for a living using the long putter or belly putter," he said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)