Keegan Bradley stuck a conventional-length putter in his bag during the first round of The Memorial Tournament and it went pretty well — he shot a five-under 67 at Muirfield Village, which currently puts him on the first page of the early leaderboard.
Turns out it was Bradley’s mother, Kaye, who encouraged her son to use the short putter.
“I was really disappointed with my finish at Byron, putted really poorly,” said Bradley in his post-round presser. “I was actually talking to my mom, of all people, who is a golfer, but she’s not I’d say a huge golfer. And 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.’
“So I hadn’t put any thought into it up until that point. That was on Sunday last week. I thought I needed something to get me excited about playing because I was bummed.”
Keegan took the short putter and put it in his bag and tested it in practice rounds playing with Michael Jordan.
“I played 36 holes a day with M.J, last week,” said Bradley. “And I told him I really wanted him to chirp at me, make me uncomfortable, which he’s good at.
“We just kept playing and playing. And I felt better and better with it. And I came here and not knowing what I was going to do, and I just played a round with Brendan Steele and I felt good with it again.
“I thought there’s no reason for me not to do it. I thought I could slip under the radar a little bit as well.”
The USGA and R&A made the decision last year to implement a ban on anchored putters beginning on January 1, 2016.
The last time Bradley used a short putter at a professional event was during a Nationwide tournament in 2010. Originally, Bradley planned to make the switch from the belly putter to the short putter after the Ryder Cup, but the decision began weighing on him.
“I would say that it’s constantly on my mind of I gotta do this, I gotta start thinking,” he said. “And I’ve done some stuff in terms of getting the putters and putting with them for five minutes, but that’s about it.
“I just decided: I think that this is a good week to try it. Again, I’m totally in a trial period here. I’m not in any way saying I’m switching for good from now on.
“This is just for right now and this week.”
But again, it was his mom who realized it was bugging him and originally put the idea in his head.
“I think she knows that, and people around me know that, it weighs on your mind,” said Bradley. “You’ve got almost like a ticking clock in your head.
“So I think she knew it might have been a good idea.”
You know what they say, mom always knows best!
Bradley added that the toughest challenge is the mental aspect of knowing others are watching him with regard to this somewhat delicate (and controversial) issue.
“At this point right now I am aware people are watching and they’re waiting to see how I do with it,” he said. “I thought my best chance was to get through this week and then in case if I did switch back to going I’m going to go belly, I didn’t want to have to maybe explain why. I thought maybe I could sneak under.
“It was mostly for my own sanity.”