Padraig Harrington in U-turn on belly putters


Less than a year after calling for anchored putters to be banned, the three-time major winner Padraig Harrington switched to one in the Wells Fargo Championship.

The new club could not stop the three-time major winner shooting an eight-over-par 80 – although his long game was more to blame for the poor score– but he said afterwards he would consider sticking with a belly putter until the proposed ban on anchored strokes comes into effect in 2016.

"The R&A and USGA support the rules of golf and [anchoring] is well within the rules," Harrington said at Quail Hollow. "I think [anchoring] is bad for the game of golf. But if something's going to help me for the next three and a half years I'm going to use it.

"It's the same as the box [square] grooves. It's hurt me deeply having the box grooves banned. I knew it wasn't good for my game, but it was for the good of the game. For the majority, I believe anchoring shouldn't be there. The commentators are talking about it. You [the media] are talking about it now. It's a story, just like the grooves.

"As much as the grooves cost me dearly, I know nobody wants to talk about that now. Six months after they were gone, nobody talked about it. It will be the same with the putter. Once it's banned, six months later everybody will move on. And there is no doubt there are individuals that it's going to be tough on [Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott have won four of the past six majors between them using anchored putters].

"But it cost me a couple of shots a day, at least a shot a day, not having the box grooves because that's my style of game. So it's not like it hasn't happened before. But for the game, I definitely think that I don't agree with anchoring at all."

After 13 holes, Rory McIlroy was on four-under at Quail Hollow, a shot behind clubhouse leaders Ryan Moore, Nick Watney, Derek Ernst and Robert Garrigus.

Record for Ye – then a 79

The 12-year old amateur Ye Wocheng became the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event, before firing a score he would rather forget. The Chinese teenager's first-round seven-over 79 in the Volvo Open in Tianjin included eight bogeys and one birdie.

"Ye's ability to listen and respond is way above the norm," said his coach, David Watson, "[but] I know it is dangerous to speculate and we must realise he is just a 12-year-old boy."