Padraig Harrington has a philosophical position on anchored putting: he believes that anchoring is counter to the spirit of the game, but he intends on anchoring until the putting stroke is banned on Jan. 1, 2016. He drew this distinction in an interview in the July issue of Golf Magazine.
The proposed ban on anchored putting would take effect in 2016. You have an unusual stance. You believe anchoring is against the spirit of the game, yet you made the switch in May. Why?
It's better for my putting. I saw all these long putters and thought, "Well, there must be something in it." I have a machine that monitors all this putting data, and I'm technically better with an anchored putter. I don't decelerate, and my [clubface] rotation is better. It helped give me confidence on short ones [at the Players Championship], so when I have a 20-footer, I'm not worried about knocking it three feet past.
You might not be able to use it for long.
Well, three years is a long time in pro golf.
Do you see it as cheating?
Look, it's not cheating. On one hand, I disagree with the anchored method. I really do. It's against the spirit of the game. It's not good for golf. It's controversial. It's a distraction. On the other hand, I'm a professional, and I've got to do everything I can within the rules to compete today. Sure, it will be banned in 2016, but by then I'll be 45 — and how many guys win majors after 45? I feel a sense of urgency.
Interesting. So it's not cheating until the rules say that it's cheating?
Absolutely. I don't see any problem with it so long as it's within the rules. I'm a great believer of the rules. You live and die by the rules, and the rules say it's okay for now. It's no different than getting a legal drop that gets me away from the cart path and also away from a tree. I'm delighted! Am I gonna say, "No thanks, I don't want the drop — I'll accept that I'm behind a tree." No way. The rules penalize me some days and help me on others.
In the interview, Harrington also talks about Rory McIlroy’s uneven play this season.
What's up with your fellow Irishman Rory McIlroy? Is he in a slump?
He has hot and cold spells. Remember, last summer he had a spell where he missed three or four cuts, then won three times late in the year. That's who Rory is.
Rory is compared to Tiger a lot, but maybe he's more like Phil Mickelson: very talented, very streaky.
And as Rory accepts that that's his style — and he's starting to — he'll start to peak more every week, because he won't push to make things happen. He'll relax, press less, let his game come to him. When he pushes for those results every week, he gets frustrated and it knocks his confidence back. And those weeks when he's on? He laps the field.
You can read the full interview here. Photo: Harrington talks to the media Tuesday at the Irish Open (Getty Images).