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Keegan Bradley called 'cheater'

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Keegan Bradley was heckled by a spectator on Saturday because he uses a belly putter and an anchored stroke that golf's ruling bodies have deemed to be illegal -- although the rule will not go into effect for three more years.

"I had some guy here call me a cheater on the last hole, which was no fun," said Bradley, who is two shots behind leader Graeme McDowell at the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual.

"That's unfortunate. It's very disrespectful. But it's fine with me. I've got to try and look at it as motivation to help me try to win this tournament."

Bradley is going to be at the forefront of the anchored debate because he became the first player to win a major championship using a belly putter when he captured the 2011 PGA Championship.

Bradley does not agree with the United States Golf Association and R&A, which on Wednesday announced a proposal to ban anchored strokes.

On Sunday, the USGA denounced the heckling of Bradley.

"This is a deplorable incident and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior," the USGA said. "... 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."

Bradley, a three-time tour winner, has said he is unlikely to switch to a conventional putter.

Later that day, Bradley said one of his Twitter followers told him to prepare his job application to send to Burger King, insinuating he won't be able to make a living without the belly putter.

It was actually a putting tip from Bradley's caddie, Steve Hale, that helped him shoot 67 on Saturday at Sherwood Country Club.

"He told me to move the ball position up a little bit in my stance," Bradley said.

Bradley said he did not respond to the heckler and that he's received plenty of support as well.

"Don't worry about it; you'll make putts with that short putter or something silly like that," he said. "But there's always going to be people that are negative. That's fine with me."