Somebody gets it, but Phil Mickelson obviously doesn't. Neither does John Daly. Nor, apparently, does three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, who reportedly has been practicing with some of the controversial pre-1990 Ping Eye2 square-grooved wedges and may use them this week at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.
Columnist Derek Lawrenson of Britain's Daily Mail understands the consequences of the Ping clubs. Check out this headline over his story: "Please, Phil Mickelson, golf can't take another cheating scandal."
This is the outbreak of reaction to Phil using the Ping clubs last week at Torrey Pines, which prompted fellow tour player Scott McCarron to say anyone using the clubs is "cheating." That led to a weekend rebuke in an official statement by the PGA Tour, which clarified that using the clubs is allowed under the rules and therefore not cheating. And that led to McCarron standing by his comments Monday, splitting hairs by saying that he never specifically called Mickelson a cheater, just accused anyone of using them of cheating. It's a fine point that a good country lawyer named Bill Clinton would understand and nod knowingly at.
Imagine if Phil Mickelson wins the Masters this year by a stroke
from Lee Westwood using a vintage Ping wedge that the latter, a Ping
contracted player all his professional life, will not touch because he
believes it violates the spirit of the game.
This is the unpalatable scenario facing a sport that thought things were bad enough
when its best player was caught cheating on his wife.
Now the No. 2 player has been branded a cheat on the course--using a wedge
with square rather than U-shaped grooves--and if Mickelson doesn't
re-think his ill-conceived move to put this club in his bag, the
repercussions are dire. At the moment he is hiding behind the fact he is not technically
breaking any rule. However, the court of professional opinion is almost
wholly behind Westwood. Mickelson should consider their unforgiving
verdict before he decides his next move.
The San Diego Union-Tribune wondered about Mickelson's motivation for using the Ping club
The stage was perfectly adorned for Mickelson last week. With Tiger Woods out due to his sex scandal and Mickelson coming off a torrid stretch of play atreported Solheim's reaction
the end of '09, the golf world was thirsty for the San Diegan to make a
statement with his game in his hometown.
Instead, he chose to make a political statement to the U.S. Golf Association and PGA Tour over the grooves issue. And in the process he opened himself up to questions about his integrity and the wisdom of golf's governing bodies.
Everybody's got a black eye on this one, including PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who can't be thrilled that he has to address the issue today at a news conference at Riviera Country Club. Let's make it clear: McCarron was wrong to call out Mickelson and others with the word “cheating.” ... But why would Mickelson even put himself
in this position, when it was predictable he would be attacked? Plain and
simple, it is Phil being Phil. He wanted to rattle cages with the governing
bodies, to make them see how counterproductive their grandfather clause is. He
probably got more than he bargained for with McCarron.
Sports Illustrated reported that Randy Peterson