Paul McGinley has brushed aside the broomhandle as a solution to his putting woes. But Padraig Harrington has adopted a “never say never” attitude to the long putter.
Dubliner McGinley, 44, is determined to remain competitive as he bids to become the first Irishman to land the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2014.
But despite struggling badly on the greens recently, he has no plans to join the long putter revolution that’s taking the game by storm.
Set to continue his golfing fightback in this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, McGinley said: “I am very much a traditionalist and I’d have to say that at the end of the day I’m anti the long putter.
“My putting is not that bad. It is a question of having more feel in my stroke and I just need to get hot because I’ve been a very consistent putter for my whole career.
“Being a good steady putter is great nowadays but if you want to win a tournament you have got to be hot with the putter and I haven’t caught fire with it.
“I have just got to putt better. I don’t need to take any huge steps to get there.”
Last week, American Webb Simpson became the third player in a row to win on the PGA Tour using a long putter following victories by Adam Scott in the Bridgestone Invitational and Keegan Bradley in the US PGA.
But world No 560 McGinley is adamant he won’t touch the broomhandle or belly putter.
He showed signs of a return to form in the Czech Open last week but had to settle for a share of 23rd after a bad week on the greens.
Determined to get back to the top, McGinley said: “I am still mad as hell about finishing 23rd last week because I played so much better than that.
“I had nine three-putts over the week and a treble bogey so I wasted a lot of shots and if I am going to contend again that’s something I’m going to have to correct.
“I played some very good golf there and I’ve been playing some good golf for a for the last couple of months.
“If I can putt a bit better, I feel like I can contend again but it won’t be with a long putter.”
Harrington changed putter for last week’s Wyndham Championship, squeaking into the first event of the FedEx Cup play-offs as 124th of the 125 qualifiers.
Changes in the rules on grooves have made it tougher for him to hit his wedges close to the hole but unless the game’s governing bodies routlaw the long putter, he says he is not averse to using it one day.
“You know what, I may go down that road one day myself,” Harrington said when asked what advice he’d give the R&A on the matter. “What can I say? I would be of the belief that the Rule of Golf says you can’t attach the putter to your body. That’s what the rules say. So is it attached or is it not, is the next it question.”
Harrington went on:
You know, obviously, you have to understand, as well, the USGA and the R&A rule on the Rules of Golf.
So they can make any ruling they like. The TOUR doesn’t have to go with it. The TOUR can always allow them or whatever, but I actually don’t know where what way to go with it. You know, certainly it’s been probably they probably got away from it with Bernhard Langer first attaching it to his arm. What difference is it attaching it to your arm or holding it in your hands. I think that was probably was there anything before that? Did anybody have a belly putter before Bernhard attached it to his forearm and would have walked up to Bernhard Langer and said: “You’re going to have to finish your career because you’ve got the yips, you’ve worked so hard on your game, you’re a great ambassador, you’re a great player but we are going to stop you playing the game forever because we don’t want you to attach it to your hand.” So there would have been a certain amount of sympathy to let that slide at the time.
You know, same with the belly putter. If the first guy who used a belly putter came out and won a major, we are all going to be it’s more of an issue now because somebody has won a major using it. But, you know, the fact is, the first guy to use a belly putter was so chronic at putting that nobody really cared, did they, and he’s still chronic. (Laughter).
Who was the first? I’m not blaming that guy but that’s how it got by. When nobody got the rule on it because it didn’t matter at the first instance, now it’s becoming putter of choice. It’s interesting, you will see young kids, and as some of the guys on TOUR, have never putted with anything but a belly putter.
As I said, once it’s within the rules, I wouldn’t use it for myself. But who knows what I’ll need to do in years to come. But it’s a tough one for the government bodies.
But as I said, it’s a tougher one for the TOUR than it is for the government bodies, but the government bodies that make the rules the TOUR doesn’t have to the TOUR plays on its own decisions.
So I don’t know where; as I said, it’s just not clear where it stands, as I said. But certainly it’s hard to go back. But they have gone back on other rules. I would say to you, the groove change rule has made a massive change to my game. Like incredibly big change. Like massive change. I would say I’m definitely, you know, game is a lot easier with the other grooves for me. So they have gone back on the rules and made the game tougher for certain people. But if I was making the rules up, I would be the only guy allowed to win every week. Sounds like good rules to me! (Laughter).
It’s not up to me individually to decide what suits me and what doesn’t. It is up to the government bodies to figure that out and rule on it for the greater good of the game, and you know, is the belly putter doing that much harm? Are they gaining advantage? As I said I think over the years, it’s been easy to let it slide because of the fact that, you know, guys use a belly putter were just bad putters so nobody really worried about it. Now good putters are using belly putters.
Q. Two weeks in a row kids out of college have used it since they were teenagers. And now they are lining up?
PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON: I would think so, yeah. I think it’s becoming much more common because there are good putters winning with belly putters, whereas years ago, they were never good putters, and even if they had a good week, they were chronic putters the follow week, so it never came on the radar as much. But who knows what the answer is? I just don’t know. But if they want to I think chat rules, only let me win every week, that sounds good to me. (Laughter).
Named as captain of the Great Britain and Ireland side for next month’s Vivendi Seve Trophy, McGinley is joined at Gleneagles by current Ryder Cup skipper Jose Maria Olazabal.
Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey, Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane complete the Irish contingent.