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.”

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.