Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mickelson at center of groove controversy, accused of cheating

After shooting a third round 70, leaving him four shots off the pace at the Farmers Insurance Open, Phil Mickelson spoke out about the new groove rule and cheating accusations made against him.

Mickelson photo gallery

Mickelson said that if the PGA Tour doesn't do anything about him being publicly slandered, he will "let others handle it", implying that he may take legal action.

He was referring to Scott McCarron, who commented about Mickelson using old Ping Eye 2 wedges with square grooves. "It's cheating, and I'm appalled Phil has put it in play."

Starting this season, the new rule set by the USGA called for all irons to have V-shaped grooves. However, Ping-Eye 2 wedges made before April of 1990 remain approved because of a lawsuit settled 20 years ago which takes precedence over the new rules.

Several players, including Mickelson and John Daly, discovered the loophole and decided to take advantage by using the old clubs. Many players on Tour took exception, claiming that Mickelson, Daly, and others using these clubs have an unfair advantage because they can gain more spin on their shots.

"I understand black and white," Mickelson said. "And I think that myself or any other player is allowed to play those clubs because they're approved - end of story."

Mickelson, the number two player in the world, has not been shy in voicing his opinion on the groove changes saying that they are "ridiculous" and should not have been made.

The Tour did later release a statement defending Mickelson and the use of the Pings.

"Under the Rules of Golf and the 2010 Condition of Competition for Groove Specifications promulgated by the USGA, pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 irons are permitted for play and any player who uses them in PGA Tour sanctioned events taking place in jurisdictions of the USGA is not in violation of the Rules of Golf."

Because the use of pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 irons is permitted for play," the statement says, "public comments or criticisms characterizing their use as a violation of the Rules of Golf as promulgated by the USGA are inappropriate at best."

Tim Finchem, PGA commissioner, will be addressing the issues in greater detail on Tuesday, February 2nd.