Golf: Defending British Open champ Ernie Els predicts legal battle over ban on long putter

WENTWORTH, BRITAIN (AFP) - Ernie Els has predicted a legal battle over the ban on anchoring putters set to come into force in 2016, and admitted he would not have won last year's British Open without a long putter.

His South African compatriot Tim Clark - who has been using an anchored putting stroke since turning professional in 1998 - has already vowed to look into the legality of the ban.

Four of the last six Major winners, including Els, have used the controversial method.

Adam Scott won this year's US Masters, while Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson have also won their first Majors using long clubs.

Els has already been practising with a short putter in preparation for the ban which was announced by the R&A and United States Golf Association on Tuesday.

He said: "It is a real issue for some players. It is a huge change and some guys are probably going to take some action. I have been using this putter for over a year. I have won a Major with it. It is a huge issue.

"This is a guy's livelihood you are talking about; a guy having problems on the greens or a guy who is used to playing with the long putter, taking that away from him now is a huge issue."

Asked if he would have won last year's British Open without using a belly putter Els added: "I don't think so. I have thought about it and I was in such a state on the greens but I am a lot better now.

"It was more of a psychological thing for me. I don't think I could have won the Open with a shorter putter."