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December 02, 2012

Keegan Bradley heckled for using belly putter, USGA responds

Posted at 1:50 PM by Golf.com | Categories: Belly Putters, Keegan Bradley, USGA

P1-Keegan2-Stephen-DunnKeegan Bradley, who anchors his putter to his stomach, a technique that will be banned by pro golf's governing bodies beginning in 2016, was  heckled by a fan during the third round of Tiger Woods's World Challenge in California.

Bradley said on Saturday that a spectator called him a "cheater" on the last hole of his round. Bradley said it was the first time he'd ever been heckled, and he said he didn't respond to the fan.

"It's very disrespectful, but it's fine with me," he said. "I've got to try to look at it as motivation to help me try to win this tournament."

[RELATED: Confidential: What should Bradley, PGA Tour do to solve heckling problem?]

Bradley also said he'd "heard way more positives than negatives," and the USGA came to his defense on Sunday, issuing a statement.

"This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior," the USGA's statement said. "As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary."

[RELATED PHOTOS: Pros affected by new rule | The long putter’s rise to controversy]

The complete statement from the USGA is below.

Far Hills, N.J. (December 2, 2012) - The United States Golf Association (USGA) today issued the following statement regarding yesterday's incident at the World Challenge in which a spectator called Keegan Bradley's use of an anchored stroke as "cheating." The incident follows the Nov. 28 announcement by the USGA and The R&A proposing changes to the Rules of Golf that would prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke. The proposed Rule change would take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf.

"This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior. As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary. Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a Rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the Rules of Golf."

"We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator. Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the Rules of Golf."

"While we understand that the proposed Rules change would cause some short-term angst, we believe the new Rule would serve the long-term best interest of the game."

(Photo: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

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