Haas, Langer defend long putter use

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SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA (AP) - Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer says the debate over putting with long clubs is far from over.

Langer has been using a long putter he anchors to his chest for 15 years, and the German remains one of the best on the 50-and-older Champions Tour, winning the money list for the fourth time this year. He was perplexed when the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced a new rule that would ban players from anchoring the club to the body.

“It has been out for that long,” Langer said Thursday at the Nedbank Challenge. “If there is anything illegal about it, why did they not stop it right away? If it is that easy with a long putter, a belly putter, why aren’t 90 percent of the pros and 100 percent of the amateurs using it?”

Langer suggested there might be a challenge to the rule proposal.

“I do not think it is the end of it,” he said. “There are pros that are on tour that grew up with that putter. They have invested 15-20 years in practicing, maybe 30 years practicing with a long putter or belly putter, and now they have to switch and they make a living doing that.”

Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark, who use long putters, have hinted at fighting any ban on the anchored stroke. They have used long putters as long as they have been on the PGA Tour. Clark is on holiday in South African and could not be reached for comment, while Pettersson declined interviews Thursday, not wanting to talk about the rule.

The governing bodies will take comment on the proposed rule for three months before approving it. The rule would not take effect until 2016.

Bill Haas used the belly putter in 2011 when he won the Tour Championship can captured the $10 million bonus in the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour. He switched back to a conventional putter this year and won at Riviera. Haas, who has used both putters recently, doesn’t think the rule needs to be changed.

“I thought I putted worse with it (the belly putter) for a while,” the American said. “I think it’s just a way to putt. I’ve heard Webb Simpson talk about it and he says stats show the best putters aren’t belly putters users.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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