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A long goodbye to belly putter

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Golf,Kevin Dunleavy

Wednesday's ruling by golf's governing bodies that outlaws anchoring the putter to any part of the body -- but not the long putter itself -- makes manufacturers happy, purists happy and, most of all, players who have been beaten by those they consider to have had an unfair advantage very happy.

The only ones upset are the professionals who have made millions by jamming long putters in their stomach or chest and swinging them like a pendulum. Players such as Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and Keegan Bradley, who have won three of the last five majors with the technique, will have three more years of unfettered use as they try to figure out how to go back to putting the old-fashioned way. Anchoring the putter will be outlawed as of January 2016.

Els had long struggled on the greens and resisted changing to a long putter. He finally gave in last year, saying, "As long as it's legal, I will keep cheating like the rest of them."

Nine months later at the 2012 British Open, Els won a major for the first time in 10 years. As others had success, the issue became more divisive.

The last thing golf wanted to see was Tiger Woods using a long putter. Wednesday's ruling makes it unlikely that will ever happen. The way Woods has putted in recent years, however, it might be a last-gasp option if he is still pursuing major No. ?15 by 2015.

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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