Mickelson didnt need to pick wedge fight

By Associated PressFebruary 2, 2010, 8:48 am

Scott McCarron wants to set one thing straight. He never called PhilMickelson a cheater.

That should help keep the lawyers at bay, as if there was ever going to beany. Mickelson’s implied threat of having his legal team deal with the biggeststory in wedges since Gene Sarazen invented a club to get out of the sand wasalmost as laughable as his claims that he was slandered by his fellow golfer.

Besides, McCarron has a valid point. He never called Mickelson a cheater.

What he said was that Mickelson cheated.

The semantics of that can be argued all the way up the Pacific Coast as thePGA Tour gets underway in earnest in uncertain times made even more uncertain bythe absence of the game’s biggest star. The stop this week is at the storiedRiviera Country Club, where Lefty would be a big story no matter what he had inhis bag.

Mickelson is the two-time defending champion, and the only player who caneven attempt to fill the huge void the tour faces with Tiger Woods not around.McCarron is a journeyman who barely cracked the top 100 money winners last yearand is recognizable only because he wields a putter almost as tall as he is.

In more civil times they might have changed shoes on the same locker roombench without more than a cursory nod. Now they’re pitted against each other ina battle that neither can win.

At issue are some 20-year-old wedges that would still be gathering dust insomeone’s garage had the USGA not taken it upon itself to try and put some skillback in the game by making it harder for players to control the ball from placesthey shouldn’t be hitting it, notably the rough.

The bigger issue, though, may be the integrity of the sport itself. This is,after all, supposed to be a gentleman’s game filled with people of honor whowant only to do the right thing.

Mickelson, though, seems to want to do only what’s right for him.

To that end, Mickelson has declared he has every right to play Ping-Eye 2wedges which were grandfathered in by a lawsuit from new rules designed to limitspin off the clubface. He’s not alone, as a handful of players have scroungedaround to find the old wedges and stick them in their bags.

To McCarron and others, though, the black and white that Mickelson sees is avery gray area indeed. They believe anyone playing the old clubs is, at the veryleast, violating the spirit of the rules of golf by gaining an unfair advantageover those who don’t have the old wedges.

“I am still appalled by the fact that any player would make the choice toput this controversial wedge in play,” McCarron said Monday.

A lot of other people are probably appalled that McCarron plays with aputter as long as a broomstick, something that no one in golf would haveconsidered proper until it came into vogue in recent years. The big putter helpsa player control small muscle and calms nerves, which has probably allowedMcCarron to keep his spot on tour all these years.

And every player who has ever asked for a questionable drop has tried to usethe rules to his advantage. Woods himself once had spectators in Phoenix move ahuge boulder in front of his ball, saying it was a loose impediment.

But this is about grooves, and it’s more complicated than just that. Therewas speculation that Mickelson, who argued last year with the USGA over the newlimitations on grooves, was more concerned with sending a message to the USGAthan he was with spinning the ball at Torrey Pines.

Whatever the case, Mickelson clearly didn’t expect to be blasted by a fellowpro for doing so, and certainly didn’t expect to be labeled as a cheater.Predictably, the tour came out on behalf of its biggest remaining star bybasically saying it was a bad thing to say bad things about fellow players.

The big question now is to see how far Mickelson will take this. Was he justtrying to make a point to the USGA or does he really think better grooves willhelp him vault to No. 1 in the world in Woods’ absence?

His main sponsor, Callaway Golf, surely can’t be too happy Mickelson isplaying a competing company’s lob wedge, especially since Callaway is spending alot of money for an ad campaign featuring Mickelson on the Super Bowl pregametelecast. Hard to convince duffers to play their wedges when Mickelson himselfisn’t.

The irony is that Mickelson is one of the great wedge players ever. He canplay shots other players can only dream of, regardless of the size of hisgrooves.

He didn’t have to pick this fight, but for some reason he did.

Now he has to deal with the consequences.

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Writeto him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.