Phil, Say it Ain’t So

The phone call yesterday went something like this: 

“Your boy got accused of cheating,” I said, speaking of PGA Tour golf icon Phil Mickelson who also happens to be City Girl’s favorite golfer.

“That’s impossible,” she replied.  “There’s no cheating in golf.”

You be the judge.  The PGA Tour outlawed golf clubs with square grooves, effective this year.  They reasoned that they give the golf ball more backspin, hence lessening a player’s necessity to actually make a skillful shot.  So at the PGA Tour’s fourth stop of the year at Torrey Pines GC outside San Diego, tour player Scott McCarron accused Mickelson of cheating by using a square-grooved wedge.  At least three other players have used the same square-grooved club this month – John Daly, Hunter Mahan, and Dean Wilson.

The golf club in question is a Ping-Eye 2 wedge.  It seems that in settling a court case brought by Ping against the United States Golf Association (USGA), any Ping-Eye 2 iron built before April 1, 1990 was deemed legal.  The PGA Tour agreed to abide by the USGA’s concession in 1993.  The Ping irons in question were manufactured from 1985-1989.  No other golf club company manufactured square-grooved clubs.

 So knowing that square-grooved clubs would be illegal on the PGA Tour this year, some savvy tour players scrambled to find the still-legal vintage Ping wedges.  While at least Mickelson, Daly, Mahan, and Wilson succeeded, most tour players weren’t even aware that the obscure rule existed.  Technically, the four did nothing wrong.  They stayed within the rules. 

But, golf is known as a gentlemen’s game.  What other sport has players call penalties on themselves, even if no one else saw the infraction?  They – in most cases – could get away with it, but it’s an honor system.  “Gentlemen, honor” – that’s a heavy responsibility.  It’s not the type of lingo you’d associate with the NBA or NFL.

Did Mickelson and the others cheat?  Mickelson says, “No.”  McCarron says, “Yes.”  In question perhaps is the spirit of the rules versus some technicality.

Perhaps tour pro Robert Allenby’s take is appropriate.  “I think cheating is not the right word.  But it’s definitely an advantage,” Allenby said of the Ping-Eye 2.  “There’s only a certain amount of players that can find them and I think it’s not right if you’re using them.”

The entire controversy may soon be a moot point.  Don’t be surprised to see the PGA Tour find a way to outlaw the Ping-Eye 2 in the next week or so.

How are the players mentioned doing at Torrey Pines?  After two rounds McCarron and Daly missed the cut and were sent packing.  Maybe that’s a factor in McCarron’s strong accusation?  Allenby is three shots off the lead, Mickelson four, and Mahan six shots behind the leaders.

Don’t worry, City Girl.  Your boy still has a chance to win again this week.

- Mountain Man and City Girl

The blogsite of Jewell Real Estate Agency, Wildwood Crest, NJ

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