By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer
SAN DIEGO — Scott McCarron is not backing away from his accusation that Phil Mickelson and other players are cheating if they use the Ping-Eye 2 wedges with square grooves.
McCarron issued a statement Monday in which he wanted to clarify that while he believes “it’s cheating” for Mickelson and anyone else to use the Ping wedges, “I never called Phil Mickelson a cheater.”
“That being said, I want my fans, sponsors and most importantly, my fellow players, to know that I will not be silenced and I will continue my efforts to get the groove issue resolved,” McCarron said.
Mickelson said over the weekend that he was “publicly slandered,” and he hinted at legal action if the PGA Tour does not discipline McCarron for his choice of words.
Square grooves no longer are allowed on the PGA Tour because of a new USGA policy effective this year that requires grooves in irons to be more a more shallow V-shape, which generate less spin.
However, the Ping-Eye 2 wedges made before April 1, 1990, are approved for competition because of a lawsuit that Ping settled with the PGA Tour and USGA some 20 years ago.
It has not been proven whether the grooves of a 20-year-old golf club — Mickelson played them in college at Arizona State and found this wedge in his garage — spin more than V-shaped grooves made with today’s technology.
John Daly and Dean Wilson were the first players to use the Ping wedges this year, at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Mickelson, who finished 19th at the Farmers Insurance Open, said he was not sure the Ping wedge was more effective than his new wedges from Callaway.
Mickelson, however, has been angry with the USGA since the groove policy was announced. He claims he submitted wedges under the new rules that the USGA did not approve, yet he was allowed to use a Ping wedge with square grooves that are not conforming.
“I understand black and white,” Mickelson said Friday. “And I think that myself or any other player is allowed to play those clubs because they’re approved — end of story.”
McCarron said to use the Ping wedges violated the spirit of the rule.
On Monday, he directed some of his frustration at the USGA and the PGA Tour for knowing the potential for this controversy before it blew up on them last week at Torrey Pines.
“Instead of addressing the matter, the tour chose to put the onus to comply on its players,” McCarron said. “Unfortunately, a handful of players have chosen not to comply, and that is what has led to this current ordeal. In my opinion … the tour must now put a rule in place to protect the field and ban these wedges.”
McCarron said the focus should shift from a small number of players using the Ping-Eye 2 wedges to the majority of players “who chose to do the right thing.”
“I am still appalled by the fact that any player would make the choice to put this controversial wedge in play, and I stand by my previous comments,” he said.
The only apology he offered was to the Farmers Insurance Open for the distraction it caused.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is to meet with players Tuesday in Los Angeles to discuss the wedge dispute.