SAN DIEGO (AP)—Phil Mickelson has been one of the strongest critics of theU.S. Golf Association’s new regulation that bans square grooves, so it was notsurprising that he became the latest player to put the Ping-Eye 2 lob wedge inhis bag.
The Ping wedge, which has square grooves, is not affected in this new era ofV-shaped grooves because of a lawsuit Ping filed against the USGA that wassettled 20 years ago. Under the settlement, any Ping-Eye 2 made before April 1,1990, is allowed.
Some have said players using the Ping wedges are violating the spirit of therule.
Mickelson doesn’t buy it.
“I’ve sent in grooves that are legal but have not been approved for play,”he said. “And I feel like the Eye-2 grooves are not legal, or don’t conform,but they are approved for play. And after talking about it to the tour and theUSGA, the only thing that matters is, ‘Are they approved for play?’
“So I don’t feel that there’s any problem if I were to play those clubs orif anybody else were,” Mickelson said. “All that matters is that it is OKunder the Rules of Golf.”
Mickelson isn’t alone. John Daly has been collecting Ping-Eye 2 wedges overthe last few months and used them in Honolulu. Ditto for Dean Wilson . Amongother players using the Ping wedges are Brad Adamonis and Hunter Mahan , whosecaddie found the beryllium copper wedge that Mahan is using at Torrey Pines.
Mickelson had several wedges from when he played at Arizona StateUniversity. He is only using the lob wedge, which he had Callaway bend from a60-degree to a 64-degree club.
He said he believes he will pick up even more spin this year in his otherwedges because he said Callaway was “fractionally more aggressive” with theV-grooves, and he is using a slightly softer ball.
MAHAN ON TIGER: Hunter Mahan looks forward to the return of Tiger Woods ,although he believes the landscape will have changed. Mahan said on Wednesdaythe intimidation factor was gone even before Woods was caught in a sex scandal.
“We stopped being intimidated by him,” Mahan said. “No one is scared ofhim. We saw Y.E. Yang play with him and flat-out beat him at the PGA last year.I think people have figured out he’s just a human being.”
The difference, Mahan said, was that Woods achieved so many “unhumanlikethings” on the golf course.
He was among those who wonder if Phil Mickelson can fill the void untilWoods returns from his indefinite break.
“I think he sees this as an opportunity to step up and kind of be the man alittle bit,” said Mahan, who has been Mickelson’s partner at a Ryder Cup andPresidents Cup.
It’s also a chance for other players to take advantage of Woods’ absence andshow there’s more to golf than one player.
“It’s an opportunity to step up and show this is not a one-man tour,”Mahan said. “Hopefully, Tiger will come back and be part of it, not thecenterpiece.”