Tag:padraig harrington
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:56 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:50 pm

Harrington calls belly rule change 'inevitable'

By Steve Elling 

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- A day after Tiger Woods all but said that the belly putter should be ruled illegal, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington made a bold prediction.

"Yes, it's inevitable it's going to get changed," he said Wednesday.

Harrington is an ambassador for the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, and whether he's speaking with any insider information here is a bit unclear, but the sentiment seems to be growing that the long putters need to be re-examined.

With a growing number of players using the belly model, and players like Adam Scott resurrecting his career with the broom model, traditionalists like Woods have raised the question of whether the clubs should be banned.

Harrington, playing this week at Pebble Beach, said that if the clubs had recently appeared out of thin air, it's highly unlikely they would have ever been permitted.

"I think at the end of the day, if we started fresh tomorrow and somebody tried to get the belly putter passed, not a chance," he said.

The game's two governing bodies, the USGA and R&A, have indicated they will take a look at the long-putter issue, though banning a device that's been around for a quarter-century sounds like a sticky situation.

Woods advocated a theoretical plan wherein the putter could not be longer than the shortest club in the bag, which would usually be a sand wedge. He envisioned putters being measured for length by comparing them to wedges on the first tee to ensure accordance, and said he had discussed the possible wording of a rule change with Peter Dawson of the R&A on several occasions.

"I definitely hear  and this is not true by connection with the R&A but just true in golf -- there's more players, there's more officials focusing on the belly putter," Harrington said.

Last year, for the first time, a major championship was won by a player using the belly putter.

Woods said Tuesday: "I've never been a fan of it. I believe it's the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. I believe that's how it should be played. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to that."

With 17 majors between Woods and Harrington, not to mention their influence in other areas, that's some pretty heavy artillery on the anti-belly side of the fence.

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