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What's in the bag? R&A to examine legality of long putter

Padraig Harrington has been a vocal critic of the extended club used by both Adam Scott and Ernie Els this week.

Adam Scott losing his grip on The Open Championship.
Adam Scott losing his grip on The Open Championship.
Image: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE COMMITTEE IN charge of the rules of golf have revealed they are set to discuss the legality of longer putters in the sport.

With Ernie Els and Adam Scott occupying the top two places at the Open Championship while using longer putters anchored into their chest or stomach, some players have called for the club to be outlawed.

Royal and Ancient (R&A), golf’s administrative body that oversees rule changes, has conceded the issue needs action soon.

“The situation is that the R&A and the USGA (United States Golf Association) do have this subject firmly back on the radar,” R&A CEO Peter Dawson said.

“I think you’re going to see us saying something about it one way or the other in a few months rather than years.”

Two of the three majors in 2012 have been won by players carrying belly putters, with Webb Simpson utilising it during his US Open win and Els doing likewise at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Padraig Harrington was one player to speak out against long putters during the Open Championship.

“If somebody invented the belly putter tomorrow, it would not pass,” Harrington said. ”I think we could all agree with that.

“The only reason it got through is the people that used it 20 years ago were coming to the end of their careers.”

Bernhard Langer was one of the first players to be associated with longer putters.

The German developed a twitch later in his career that troubled him when he used a standard putter and Harrington believes a sense of pity allowed longer putters to be introduced into golf.

“They didn’t want to say, ‘oh, that’s it, you can’t play anymore’,” Harrington said.  ”That’s why it got by.”

Dawson confirmed that Harrington’s complaint is one that he has heard on many occasions.

“The objections at professional level are all about if people become failed putters in the conventional way, why should they have a crutch to come back and compete against me when I haven’t failed in the conventional way,” he said.

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