Scott McCarron has apologized to Phil Mickelson for using the word “cheating” when he disagreed with Mickelson and others who use the Ping Eye 2 wedges that are only allowed because of a legal loophole.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with players at the Northern Trust Open late Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles and, according to one player, said the Tour was working with Ping to figure out a solution.
The player spoke on condition of anonymity because Finchem asked that he be the first to speak publicly to the media Wednesday morning.
The Tour likely would not be able to invoke a local rule banning the wedge at Riviera this week.
McCarron caused a furor last week at Torrey Pines when he told the San Francisco 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 legal action.
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 I said. 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 U.S. Golf Association changed its rules to outlaw square grooves with a certain depth and volume, now requiring grooves that are more shallow with rounded edges, which some refer to as V-shaped grooves. The idea is to reduce spin and make hitting into the fairway more important.
However, the Ping Eye 2 wedges made before April 1, 1990, are approved for play, even though the grooves don’t conform. That’s because Ping’s legal settlement with the USGA (in 1990) and PGA Tour (in 1993) take precedence over any rule changes.
The player at the meeting said Finchem apologized to players for the PGA Tour 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 possibility of creating its own set of rules, the player said.
Solheim had said in a statement Monday that the Tour could not establish a local rule that was different from the USGA. Solheim also said he was willing to discuss a “workable solution.”
Earlier Tuesday, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland said he was contemplating using the Ping wedges at Riviera.
“I’m kind of waiting to see what the Tour’s direction is,” Harrington said. “What I’m doing is I’m preparing myself for all eventualities. It would be naive not to. I did some good testing yesterday. Unfortunately, the testing showed up exactly what you would expect, and there’s a significant difference. I think that significant difference depends on the players.”
Steve Stricker said he was surprised how divisive the Ping wedges have become.
“The rule isn’t very good,” he said. “We have conforming grooves, but yet we can play a set of grooves that were legal back in 1990. I think the rule just needs to be altered. Hopefully, we get it straightened out and we all get on an even playing surface.”