Bradley follows mom's advice on switch in putters

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 29, 2014 at 6:01 pm •  Published: May 29, 2014
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DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Mother knows best. It's true in golf, too.

Keegan Bradley reaffirmed that when he had a heart-to-heart with his mom a couple of Sundays ago.

Mind you, Bradley, who'll turn 28 in just over a week, is one of the best players in the world. He won the PGA Championship in 2011, so he's already got that major-championship bugaboo out of the way.

Yet, his mom had some advice for him.

"I actually talked to my mom, of all people, who is a golfer, but she's not a huge golfer," said Bradley, the nephew of LPGA great and World Golf Hall of Famer Pat Bradley. "She said, 'I'm going to tell you something. I don't think you're going to like it.' I was, like, 'All right.' She said, 'I think you should use the short putter.'"

Now Bradley had won three times on the PGA Tour and had become a weekly threat to win by using a long putter. Unfortunately, that anchored stroke associated with long putters has been outlawed by the USGA and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. The anchored ban begins in 2016, although the PGA Tour and PGA of America have declared they do not believe that the stroke commonly used for long putters is an advantage.

So Bradley, looking for a reason to energize his game, used a short putter Thursday in the first round of the Memorial Tournament and shot a 5-under 67.

"I needed something to get me excited about playing because I was bummed," said Bradley, who has played erratically for most of this season.

Bradley's round at Muirfield Village included five birdies and no bogeys.

Oh, and by the way, he took just 28 putts.

"I thought I could slip under the radar a little bit," he said with a grin. "Now it's out there and people know."

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QUOTABLE: Rory McIlroy after his 9-under 63 to take a three-shot lead after the opening round: "This has been coming."

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NOT A FAN: Bubba Watson loves Muirfield Village. Well, most of it, anyway.

After Watson put the finishing touches on an opening 66, he said he played really well. Except at the downwind, par-3 water hole at No. 16.

"I don't mind making a bogey there because I don't like that hole," Watson said.

This is the fifth year of the redesigned 16th. It used to be a relatively nondescript hole, made difficult by the winds that usually funnel as if through a chute behind the tee. The previous green had big, deep bunkers in front and back.

Jack Nicklaus, the course designer, also never liked the old hole. He called it "just a way to get from the 15th green to the 17th tee." So before the 2010 tournament, he completely reconstructed it. He added a big pond in front of a green that was cut on the bias, so it looked about as wide as a blade of grass from the tee. Heavy rough awaited any shots that flew the green. There were treacherous pin positions available that are tight to the bunkers or just over the water.

One of the tournament's signature moments took place at the hole. In 2012, Tiger Woods' iron shot ended up in the lush, gnarly, grabby rough over the green. Woods pulled out a 60-degree sand wedge and, with the distinct possibility of the ball bouncing through the green and into the lake, he holed it for birdie to tie for the lead. He then made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th to lock up his fifth victory in the event.

Watson said the hole remains a major problem for him.

"It's the first par 3 I'm aiming off the green," he said. "If I can play it in 2 over this week I'll be pretty happy."

He's already 1 over.

Others felt the same way as Watson. Phil Mickelson, coincidentally another left-hander, also said he disliked the 16th after bogeying it in a 72.

The 16th, measuring 201 yards, was the second-toughest hole Thursday, averaging 3.342 shots. There were only seven birdies — and eight double bogeys.

Nicklaus is among those who recognizes how hard the 16th now is.

"I'm glad I didn't have to play my own hole," he said after the tournament two years ago.