Phil Mickelson is taking advice on what course of action to follow in the wake of accusations of cheating.
The world number two came in for criticism from fellow American tour player Scott McCarron on Friday regarding his use of a pre-1990 Ping i2 wedge with square grooves to exploit a loophole in a new regulation allowing only V grooves.
The Ping wedges are allowed by the games rule makers, the United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club, and approved by the PGA Tour for use in tournaments following a 1993 legal settlement with the club manufacturer that takes precedence over the governing bodies’ new regulations.
Despite playing approved clubs in his opening event of 2010 at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, McCarron told the San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s cheating, and I’m appalled Phil has put it in play.”
Having responded to that statement on Friday by saying he disagreed with the new rule but was within his rights to use the club in question, Mickelson was more outspoken following his third round at Torrey Pines.
“Well, we all have our opinions on the matter, but a line was crossed, and I just was publicly slandered, and because of that I’ll have to let other people handle that,” Mickelson said.
Asked whether that might lead to legal action, he added: “I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I think the (PGA) Tour will probably get on top of it.”
The PGA Tour had already issued a statement on Saturday that reiterated the legality of the pre-1990 Ping clubs and cautioned against criticism of players who decided to put them in play.
“Because the use of pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 irons is permitted for play, public comments or criticisms characterising their use as a violation of the Rules of Golf as promulgated by the USGA are inappropriate at best,” the PGA Tour statement said.
Without blaming the row, Mickelson said his driving had begun to suffer over the last couple of rounds, although after shooting a third-round two-under-par 70 to move into a tie for fifth place, he still lay four strokes behind 54-hole leader Ryuji Imada of Japan heading into Sunday’s final round.
“My short game kept me in it. I didn’t hit the ball the way I’ve been hitting it coming in,” Mickelson said.
“I don’t feel like it’s far off. Hopefully I’ll make an adjustment tonight. I’ll talk to Butch (Harmon) here shortly. We’ll see if we can do it over the phone, otherwise I may have him come down. But at least I’m in a position now where a good round tomorrow can get it done.
“It sure looked rusty, but I had been so sharp just a week ago. I felt ready to tee it up a week ago. And I think I’m a little over-anxious. I think I’m a little amped up. My timing has been off. I’ve been trying to hit the ball too hard, and I’ve been over-swinging, and it’s been throwing off my rhythm. So I’ll see if I can get that settled down for tomorrow.
“If I throw something in the mid to high 60s I think it has a very good chance.”