McCarron accuses Mickelson of cheating

By Doug FergusonJanuary 30, 2010, 4:47 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – Already missing Tiger Woods because of a sex scandal, the PGA Tour headed into another mess Friday when a player accused Phil Mickelson of “cheating” for using wedges that are allowed under a legal technicality.

“It’s cheating, and I’m appalled Phil has put it in play,” Scott McCarron said in Friday’s edition of The San Francisco Chronicle.

Mickelson is among at least four players at Torrey Pines using a Ping-Eye 2 wedge that was made 20 years ago and has square grooves. Such grooves now are banned on the PGA Tour because of a new USGA regulation this year that irons have V-shaped grooves.

The square-groove Ping wedges remain legal, however, because of a lawsuit that Ping filed against the USGA that was settled in 1990. Under the settlement, any Ping-Eye 2 made before April 1, 1990, remains approved because it takes precedence over any rule change.

McCarron’s comments resonated across Torrey Pines because “cheating” is considered one of the dirtiest accusations in a sport that prides itself on honesty and players calling penalties on themselves.

Mickelson refused to be drawn into a debate with McCarron over his choice of words, rather he criticized the USGA for adopting such a rule change in the first place, especially knowing that this loophole might cause problems.

“It’s a terrible rule. To change something that has this kind of loophole is nuts,” Mickelson said. “But it’s not up to me or any other player to interpret what the rule is or the spirit of the rule. I understand black and white. And I think that myself or any other player is allowed to play those clubs because they’re approved – end of story.”

The dispute comes at a time when the PGA Tour is trying to return its focus to golf after a troublesome two months involving Woods, its biggest star who is taking an indefinite break while dealing with the fallout from his extramarital affairs. The Farmers Insurance Open, the 2010 debut for Mickelson, is the first tournament on network television.

McCarron, a three-time winner who missed the cut Friday, said he was not singling out Mickelson for cheating, rather player who chose to use the old Ping wedges because he felt it violated the spirit of the new rule.

He was asked if he regretted using that choice of words.

“That anybody using that wedge is cheating? I still feel strongly about it,” McCarron said. “Anyone using that wedge I feel is behind the rules, even though we have a rule that because of a lawsuit says it’s OK.”

Told that the Ping club is approved for play, McCarron replied, “It was approved because of why? Because of a lawsuit years ago? I don’t think that’s in the spirit of the rules. Golf is a gentleman’s game. I don’t think anyone should be using it.”

McCarron, recently appointed to the 16-member Players Advisory Council that deals with competition issues, said it likely would be brought up at a meeting next week.

The PGA Tour said in a statement Friday evening that it was aware some players might use the old Ping wedges with square grooves.

“We will monitor this situation as we move forward, and under our tournament regulations, we do have the ability to make a local rule which would not allow the clubs,” the statement said. “There’s been no decision at this time.”

PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said it had a different settlement with Ping in 1993 that allowed contained “different conditions,” which would allow the tour to ban the Ping clubs.

Square grooves are deeper and typically provide more spin than V-shaped grooves. One reason the USGA chose to ban the square grooves was to put a greater premium on accuracy off the tee. It felt too many players were able to spin the ball out of the rough, making it easier to stick the ball closer to the pin.

Still to be determined is whether wedges at least 20 years old can produce the same spin as modern clubs with V-grooves. Further complicating the issue is that not every player has access to the clubs made so long ago. Ping no longer manufactures the club, but because of serial numbers, it can confirm to players whether Ping wedges they find in garages or on eBay were made before 1990.

John Daly was the first to use the Ping wedge two weeks ago at the Sony Open, as did Dean Wilson. More players followed, and Hunter Mahan’s caddie found a copper-colored Ping wedge for him to use this week.

Robert Allenby is among those who think using the wedges violates the intention of the new rule. However, he chose his words differently from McCarron when asked about it Thursday.

“I think ‘cheating’ is not the right word,” Allenby said. “But it’s definitely an advantage. There’s only a certain amount of people that can find them, and I just think it’s not right if you’re using them.”

Mickelson made no apologies. He said he submitted wedges to the USGA that met the new requirements yet were not approved, but there was a wedge the USGA approved (Ping) that did not meet the new rules. He also said testing procedures are different in the United States and overseas, adding to the frustration.

“This whole groove thing has turned into a debacle,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson said he wasn’t sure if he would continue to play his Ping wedge, saying he didn’t find much difference in spin from that and the regulation grooves in his other wedges.

“There’s a good chance I’ll switch back, but not for the reason that I feel like I’ve been doing something wrong,” Mickelson said. “I think that any player using these clubs that are approved under the rules of golf are fine.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm