GULLANE, Scotland - Carl Pettersson's golf bag was a little bit lighter. And the burly Swede didn't stand quite so tall Thursday in the British Open.
All because of his putter.
Pettersson has used a long putter that he anchors to his chest since he was in college at North Carolina State. For the first time in a major - for the first time that it really mattered - he switched to a conventional putter Thursday at Muirfield.
"Putted nice," Pettersson said without even being asked a question.
The USGA and R&A adopted a new rule in May that will ban the anchored stroke starting in 2016. Pettersson was among those who were strongly opposed to the rule, and he was one of the players singled out as how the ban might affect a career.
The broom-handled putter is all he has used as a pro. He has put in thousands upon thousands of hours practicing with it. But he also realizes change is coming.
A week after the U.S. Open, Pettersson was at the Travelers Championship when he saw a bunch of putters and thought about changing.
"We always have a Tuesday game, a gambling game, and I used it in that and made nine birdies," Pettersson said. "I was going to put it in at Hartford but I didn't have the (guts) to do it."
Pettersson first used the conventional putter in the final round of the John Deere Classic, where he was at the bottom of the pack. He shot 70 and tied for 54th.
"It was nerve-racking at the John Deere," he said. "If it hadn't gone well, I would be back to square one. But I did nice. I holed all the putts you're supposed to hole."
The real test was the British Open on Thursday, when he essentially started out in a tie for the lead. He had no complaints, especially after making a 30-foot birdie putt on the opening hole.
Spieth rolls on
The last five days must feel like a blur to 19-year-old Jordan Spieth. He won the John Deere Classic on Sunday for his first professional win, which qualified him for the British Open. He flew on a charter overnight to Scotland. He saw Muirfield for the first time.
And then he went out Thursday shot a 69, one of only 13 rounds in the 60s.
Perhaps more impressive is that Spieth had only one bogey, dropping a shot on the par-3 fourth hole. He birdied two of the par 5s and added another birdie on the short par-4 third hole.
Spieth started the season without status on any tour and now has a PGA Tour title, an exemption through 2015 on tour, a spot in the next two majors and World Golf Championships and over $2 million.
"There's even less pressure than there was before," Spieth said. "I kind of accomplished more than I'd thought possible this year. I just wanted to get my card for next year. I didn't think it would happen this soon. But on the course, I was plenty confident to go out there and do it."
SYLVANIA, Ohio - Former Arizona Wildcat Alison Walshe, chasing her first victory in four years on the LPGA Tour, shot a 6-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the steamy Marathon Classic.
Walshe needed only 22 putts to negotiate hot and humid Highland Meadows. Paula Creamer, the 2008 winner of what used to be known as the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, played later in the day and shot a 66 that left her tied with Lexi Thompson and Canadian Jessica Shepley.
MADISON, Miss. - Daniel Summerhays rebounded from a disappointing finish last week in Illinois to take the lead in the rain-delayed first round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Four days after squandering the final-round lead in the John Deere Classic, Summerhays shot a 9-under 63 to open a three-stroke lead.
He had an eagle and seven birdies in a bogey-free round at Annandale Golf Club.