McCarron offers apology tour mulls options


Scott McCarron has apologized to Phil Mickelson for using the word“cheating” when he disagreed with Mickelson and others who use the Ping Eye2wedges that are only allowed because of a legal loophole.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with players at the Northern TrustOpen late Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles and, according to one player, saidthe tour was working with Ping to figure out a solution.

The player spoke on condition of anonymity because Finchem asked that he bethe first to speak publicly to the media Wednesday morning.

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The tour likely would not be able to invoke a local rule banning the wedgeat Riviera this week.

McCarron caused a furor last week at Torrey Pines when he told The SanFrancisco Chronicle about Mickelson using Ping wedges with square grooves,“It’s cheating, and I’m appalled Phil has put it in play.”

Mickelson said he had been “publicly slandered” and hinted at legalaction.

McCarron told The Golf Channel as other reporters looked on Tuesday evening:“I’m certainly sorry for it. I’d like to apologize to Phil Mickelson for what Isaid. We both realize we’re on the same page on this issue.”

Whether that was enough to satisfy Mickelson remained to be seen.

McCarron also apologized in the meeting, according to the player.

The USGA changed its rules to outlaw square grooves with a certain depth andvolume, now requiring grooves that are more shallow with rounded edges, whichsome refer to as V-shaped grooves. The idea is to reduce spin and make hittinginto the fairway more important.

However, the Ping Eye2 wedges made before April 1, 1990, are approved forplay, even though the grooves don’t conform. That’s because Ping’s legalsettlement with the USGA (in 1990) and PGA Tour (in 1993) take precedence overany rule changes.

The player at the meeting said Finchem apologized to players for the PGATour not realizing some competitors—Mickelson, John Daly and Hunter Mahan ,among others—would use clubs that were at least 20 years old.

Among the considerations were to find a solution with Ping and John Solheim,the chairman and CEO of the equipment company; or to look into the possibilityof creating its own set of rules, the player said.

Solheim had said in a statement Monday that the tour could not establish alocal rule that was different from the USGA. Solheim also said he was willing todiscuss a “workable solution.”

Earlier Tuesday, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington said he wascontemplating using the Ping wedges at Riviera.

“I’m kind of waiting to see what the tour’s direction is,” Harringtonsaid. “What I’m doing is I’m preparing myself for all eventualities. It wouldbe naive not to. I did some good testing yesterday. Unfortunately, the testingshowed up exactly what you would expect, and there’s a significant difference. Ithink that significant difference depends on the players.”

Steve Stricker said he was surprised how divisive the Ping wedges havebecome.

“The rule isn’t very good,” he said. “We have conforming grooves, but yetwe can play a set of grooves that were legal back in 1990. I think the rule justneeds to be altered. Hopefully, we get it straightened out and we all get on aneven playing surface.”