Bradley & USGA Respond to 'Cheater' Comment from Fan at World Challenge

As Keegan Bradley came off the 18th green in the third round of the World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., a spectator yelled and called him a "cheater." The reference was the result of Tuesday's announcement that a Rules change has been proposed by the USGA and the R&A that would ban anchored clubs.

The 26-year-old Bradley became the first player in history using a belly putter to capture a major title when he won the 2011 PGA Championship. Once the golf's two ruling bodies vet various golf associations, the ban on the club will take effect January 1, 2016.

"I had some guy here call me a cheater on the last hole, which was no fun," Bradley said after he shot a 5-under-par 67 Saturday at Sherwood Country Club. "But I look forward to hopefully making everything (Sunday) with that belly putter and hopefully it'll get a little louder."

That didn't happen, as Graeme McDowell closed with a 4-under 68 to win the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods by three strokes over Bradley.

Bradley, one of golf's most intense competitors, won't be making a switch to another putter until he's good and ready. "It's very disrespectful. But it's fine with me," Bradley said. "I've got to try to look at it as motivation to help me try to win this tournament.

"I've never heard anything negative (before this week)," he added. "Today I heard a few things, but I also heard way more positives than negatives. (People have said) don't worry about it, you'll make putts with that short putter. But there's always going to be people that are negative. That's fine with me."

In response to the incident, the USGA issued a statement Sunday that clarified the possible ban. Here's what it said:

"The United States Golf Association (USGA) today issued the following statement regarding yesterday's incident at the World Challenge in which a spectator called Keegan Bradley's use of an anchored stroke as 'cheating.'

"The incident follows the November 28 announcement by the USGA and the R&A proposing changes to the Rules of Golf that would prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke. The proposed Rule change would take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf.

"This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior. As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary. Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a Rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the Rules of Golf.

"We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator. Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the Rules of Golf.

"While we understand that the proposed Rules change would cause some short-term angst, we believe the new Rule would serve the long-term best interest of the game."