DORAL, Fla. – Hunter Mahan managed his way around “Groovegate” without being engulfed in the controversy.
He won the Waste Management Phoenix Open two weeks ago after removing a controversial 20-year-old Ping Eye2 lob wedge from his bag and now doesn’t have to worry about whether he ought to put it back into play.
Mahan said Tuesday at the WGC-CA Championship that he’s pleased that Ping voluntarily waived rights that allowed its pre-1990 wedges to be played on the PGA Tour despite the fact that they featured deeper, wider grooves than new U.S. Golf Association rules allow. Beginning March 29, they will no longer be permitted for play. Mahan has an equipment deal with Ping.
When the furor over pre-1990 Ping Eye2 wedges erupted over Phil Mickelson’s use of one at the Farmers Insurance Open, Mahan also had the controversial wedge design in his bag. PGA Tour veteran Scott McCarron said using the wedges constituted “cheating.” Mahan was playing an old 58-degree Ping Eye2 lob wedge with the square grooves. He played with the controversial wedge again at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Mahan won at Phoenix with a newly designed Ping lob wedge that met new standards.
“What I was concerned about is if I won [with the pre-1990 Ping Eye2 wedge],” Mahan said. “Then you get a bunch of questions. `Well, did it play a big part in your win?’ I didn’t want to answer that. I didn’t want to be the only guy to use it [and win].'
With conditions growing firmer and faster through the Florida swing and the PGA Tour’s summer swing, there would be temptation to use the square grooves again.
“Now you don’t have to worry about it anymore,” Mahan said. “I think Ping did the right thing for the game. They are a classy organization.”