Long putter in spotlight as Bradley uses one to win PGA Championship

keegan bradley
Getty Images
Keegan Bradley has been using a long putter for 2 1/2 years, and said they were common during his time on the Nationwide Tour.
Pete Iacobelli
Associated Press

Series: PGA Championship

Published: Monday, August 15, 2011 | 6:17 p.m.

Keegan Bradley became the first golfer to win a major tournament using a long putter with his comeback at the PGA Championship.

Bradley’s rally included a deft touch on the greens with the long putter.


For our complete official coverage of the 2011 PGA Championship, click here.

“Personally, I think it’s an easier way to putt,” he said. “Especially when there’s some nerves.”

There were plenty of those during the final round -- except maybe for Bradley.

“This guy is the guttsiest player I’ve ever worked for, ever,” said caddie Steve Hale. “This kid, there’s no quit in him.”

Bradley rattled in a 35-foot putt on the 17th hole and then made a critical two-putt to save par on No. 18 to force the playoff.

“It wasn’t easy to two-putt from that spot,” said Scott Verplank, Bradley’s final-round partner.

Bradley continued his touch in the three-hole playoff, starting off with a birdie on the 16th and then tapping in for a winning par on the 18th.

Bradley says he’s used the belly putter for 2 1/2 years and said it was routine on the Nationwide Tour to be “in a group with three guys that had unconventional putters. It happened all the time.”

Just not in the majors. It’s hard to forget the iconic shots of the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, bent way over as he struck his putts.

Bradley didn’t see why he couldn’t try the belly putter, especially when it felt so right.

“For a guy that’s 40 years old and has been playing with a short putter for 35 years, they grab that thing and it’s a bizarre feeling,” Bradley said. “For me, it was really easy. It just clicked right away.”

That was apparent at the PGA Championship. Hale saw it coming throughout the round as Bradley’s deft touch got him out of trouble again and again. “You kind of had a sense that something like this was going to happen,” the caddie said.

Maybe, but it had never happened before.