Harrington, McIlroy weigh in on grooves

Updated: February 2, 2010, 8:26 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Add three-time major champion Padraig Harrington to the list of players considering using older-model Ping irons, whose square grooves remain on the golf's list of conforming clubs.


"But while they're out there being used, it's a difficult situation not to for anybody who's competitive not to go out there and take full advantage of what you can if somebody else is," Harrington said Tuesday, joining the fray which has divided golfers over new regulations on the shape of grooves in club heads.

Harrington said he's taking a wait-and-see approach for now, but isn't ruling anything out. "What I'm doing is I'm preparing myself for all eventualities," Harrington said. "It would be na´ve not to."

In January, the USGA and The Royal & Ancient introduced rules designed to prevent tour professionals from putting excessive spin on golf balls when playing out of long, rough grass.

The measures have been greeted with mixed reactions and confusion on the PGA and European Tours. Phil Mickelson has found a way around the change by playing with a 20-year-old Ping wedge. Tour player Scott McCarron has claimed that it's "cheating" to use them.

The new regulation shrinks the volume and softens the edges of the club head grooves. Mickelson was among at least four players at Torrey Pines last week who used the Ping wedges, which have square grooves. The Ping wedges made before April 1, 1990, are approved for competition because of a 1990 settlement from Ping's lawsuit against the USGA.

Harrington said he tested a conforming Ping 60-degree wedge on Monday.

"Unfortunately the testing showed up exactly what you would expect, and there's a significant difference," he said in preparation for the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. "I think that significant difference depends on the players. Some players don't find that there was a difference between the old V-groove and box groove. Other players find that there is a big difference."

Earlier Tuesday, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland said in Dubai that he wants golf authorities to reconsider the new regulations.

"I don't see why they don't firm greens up and get the rough longer to bring scores down," McIlroy said. "They can make golf courses a lot tougher and turn 20-under winning scores into 12 under."

McIlroy, 20, will defend his title at the Desert Classic on Thursday. He'd prefer other ways to make golf more difficult rather than tampering with club design. But he added that fans don't mind low scores.

"When I turn on the TV and I am watching a tournament, I don't like to see guys struggling for pars all the time," he said. "I think people like to see birdies as well."

Harrington said he would like to see some sort of clarification on the rules.

"I think most of us were brought up that you've got to adhere strictly by the rules, and whatever those rules are in place, you've got to play by them," he said.

Harrington said that after testing, he can't decide. "... Every 10 minutes it's in the bag, it's out of the bag," he said. "That's basically how it's been going. I haven't settled at all on what I'm going to do, but I'll have it could be 10 minutes before my tee time and not know what I'm going to do this week."

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.