- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 8, 2012

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - If golf decides to ban long putters, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson will be ready.

Simpson said Wednesday he ordered two Scotty Cameron putters that are conventional length and has been practicing with them at home in case the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and U.S. Golf Association decide later this year that anchoring a club to the body will not be allowed.

Neither organization has said which way they are leaning.

“I don’t want to be surprised by it,” Simpson said. “I’m almost kind of telling myself to expect it, and we’ll see what happens.”

Simpson has been using a belly putter for years, and when he won the U.S. Open at Olympic Club, he became one of three major champions to use such a belly putter in the last year. Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship last year, and Ernie Els won the British Open last month. Els rallied from a six-shot deficit on the last day to beat Adam Scott, who uses a long putter that he anchors near his sternum.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said the day after the British Open that long putters were “firmly back on the radar” of the governing bodies, and that a decision is expected in “months rather than years.” Dawson said discussions were centered on the rules of golf, instead of an equipment decision. If a change fell under the rules, it could not be enacted until 2016. The rules are changed every four years.

“This decision has not been taken,” Dawson said. “Please don’t think that it has.”

Simpson and Bradley are considered good putters who happen to use the belly putter. There have been questions over players who are not considered good putters _ Els has struggled in recent years, as has Scott _ gaining an advantage.

Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell _ who holed his share of clutch putts in 2010 at the Ryder Cup, U.S. Open and in beating Tiger Woods late in that year _ said he has spoken to USGA executive director Mike Davis.

“They feel their research has shown that putting under pressure down the stretch on the back nine on Sunday, when you can anchor the putter to a part of your body, that just takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke. Putting under pressure with that type of putter is easier. … But having said that, if it was so easy, everyone would be using one, you know? They have their advantages and disadvantages. It just so happens that a lot of very good players in the world now are using long putts.

“Let’s level the playing field again,” McDowell said. “Let’s get everyone with a short putter back in the bag as the game is meant to be played.”

Some players would argue that it took them years of practice with the long putter. Carl Pettersson, for example, has used a long putter his entire PGA Tour career.

Simpson suggested a long putter shouldn’t be singled out.

“Do I think they should be banned? No, and here’s why,” he said. “You take a wooden driver compared with the 460cc’s titanium, and to me that’s a lot bigger difference than a 35-inch putter to a 45-inch putter.”

He also said no one from among the top 20 in the PGA Tour’s new “strokes gained” statistic used a long putter.

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