Mickelson accepts apology takes wedge out

By Doug FergusonFebruary 4, 2010, 1:57 am
LOS ANGELES – Phil Mickelson won’t be using the Ping Eye 2 wedge that led a fellow player to accuse him of “cheating,” even though he hopes others will use the controversial club to keep attention on what he calls a ridiculous rule.

“I won’t be playing that wedge. My point has been made,” Mickelson said Wednesday on the eve of his two-time title defense at Riviera. “But if these governing bodies cannot get together to fix this loophole, if players stop using this wedge – which would stop the pressure of the issue – then I will relook at it and put the wedge back in play.”

The Ping wedge has grooves that no longer conform under a new USGA regulation, adopted by the PGA Tour. However, any Ping wedge made before April 1, 1990, is approved for play under a legal settlement from two decades ago.

Mickelson is among five players who have used the Ping wedge in competition this year.

Several players believe using the club goes against the spirit of the new grooves regulation, although Scott McCarron fueled the debate when he said of Mickelson and others, “It’s cheating.”

Mickelson hinted at legal action after saying he was “publicly slandered.” He said McCarron offered him a sincere apology on Tuesday night, which he accepted.

“We all make mistakes, and we all say things we wish we could take back,” Mickelson said. “I’ve done it a bunch in my career. And the fact that it’s also not easy to come up and face that person, look them in the eye and apologize … I appreciate him being a big enough man to do that.”

Instead, Mickelson vented his anger at the USGA and its lack of transparency in developing the new rules for grooves. He has complained that his submitted wedges that fit the guidelines, only for the USGA to reject the club for violating the intent of the new rule.

“I’ve very upset with the way the rule came about, the way one man essentially can approve or not approve a golf club based on his own personal decision, regardless of what the rule says,” Mickelson said. “This has got to change.”

The next step remains murky.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with players on Tuesday night and conceded that Tour officials did not realize a Ping wedge from 20 years ago would become such a big issue.

Finchem said the Ping Eye 2 wedge produces spin at about 60 percent of the rate from last year’s wedges, but about 10 percent more than wedges approved for competition this year.

“The assumption was made last year that very few, if any, players would use that club because they’re 20 years old,” Finchem said. “I think we underestimated that a little bit.”

He said the Tour could either do nothing and monitor how many players used wedges, an option that seemed unlikely because Finchem said it still raised issues over fairness in competition. Some players are going to eBay to find the clubs, as Ping stopped making them and now only can confirm through serial numbers when the wedges were made.

The other option is to work out an agreement with Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim. He said Solheim was to meet with the USGA over the next few weeks, and “I can only hope progress is made in that regard.”

Ping plays the biggest role in any solution because of its lawsuits against the USGA and PGA Tour over square grooves.

Finchem said the third option involved a complicated process in which the Tour’s independent committee on equipment tries to establish a local rule. He called that a “cumbersome process.”

Any solution could be weeks, if not months, away.

In the meantime, Mickelson said he would not use the wedge at the Northern Trust Open, even though he’s hopeful others will.

“If there’s no pressure among these organizations to make changes, I will immediately put the club back in play,” Mickelson said.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

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.