Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mickelson Reacts to Club Situation; Lefty Says He Won't Use Ping Iron for Now, but Calls Rule "Ridiculous."

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mickelson Reacts to Club Situation; Lefty Says He Won't Use Ping Iron for Now, but Calls Rule "Ridiculous."

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

His point made, and out of respect to his peers, Phil Mickelson said Wednesday that he will not use a Ping Eye2 wedge this week in the Northern Trust Open.

However, the world's No. 2-ranked player warned the United States Golf Association and the PGA Tour that if they didn't resolve the baffling issue of groove depth on the face of irons, he would use the club in competition again and hoped other players would follow suit.

"If these governing bodies cannot get together to fix this loophole, I will put the wedge back in play," he said during a news conference at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Mickelson also blasted the USGA and without naming him specifically, singled out USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge. Callaway, Mickelson's club company, submitted irons to the USGA that met the new specifications for grooves, but they were rejected because they still had spin rates higher than the USGA wanted.

"I'm very upset with the way the rule came about, the way one man essentially can approve or not approve a golf club based on his own personal decision," Mickelson said. "It was a ridiculous rule change and even worse timing. It's cost manufacturers millions of dollars ... it's killing the sport."

Rugge did not return a phone message left at his USGA office. USGA media relations officials did respond to requests for comments on Mickelson's remarks.

The controversy stems from the USGA's ban of irons with U-shaped grooves, which went into effect for tournament competition this year. The PGA Tour abides by USGA guidelines for its competition.

The USGA mandated shallower V-shaped grooves, citing testing data that showed the penalty for hitting shots out of the rough had been reduced greatly with U-groove clubs.

The Ping Eye2s, introduced in the late 1980s, were the first irons to have U-shaped grooves. The USGA attempted to ban them, but Ping sued. A court settlement in 1993 grandfathered any Eye2s made before April 1, 1990, into use.

Two Tour players, John Daly and Dean Wilson were able to find some now-rare Ping Eye2 irons in the offseason and began using them on the Tour's Hawaiian Swing. …

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