McCarron sorry for implying cheating

Updated: February 3, 2010, 8:16 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

PACIFIC PALISADES, Cal. -- Scott McCarron has apologized to fellow American Phil Mickelson for implying that the world No. 2 had cheated by using a 20-year-old Ping-Eye 2 wedge at last week's San Diego Open.

The pair had a 10-minute conversation after PGA Tour players met with commissioner Tim Finchem at Riviera Country Club on Tuesday to discuss the lingering debate over the legality of square grooves.

McCarron We had a very nice conversation ... and we both realize that we are on the same page on this issue. We think it's an issue that clearly needs to be resolved. This issue should have been solved by January 1st and unfortunately there is a lot of legal haggling that has to go on ... before we can actually do something about the rule.

-- Scott McCarron

Under United States Golf Association (USGA) rules implemented on Jan. 1, square or U-grooves have been outlawed but the Ping-Eye 2 wedge is deemed legal because of a lawsuit won by its manufacturer over the USGA in 1990.

"I would like to apologize to Phil Mickelson for the comments that I made," McCarron told reporters in the build-up to this week's Northern Trust Open.

"We had a very nice conversation ... and we both realize that we are on the same page on this issue. We think it's an issue that clearly needs to be resolved.

"This issue should have been solved by January 1st and unfortunately there is a lot of legal haggling that has to go on ... before we can actually do something about the rule."

The new rules relating to club-face grooves were implemented after research found modern configurations could allow players to generate almost as much spin with irons from the rough as from the fairway.

All clubs, with the exception of drivers and putters, have been affected by the change, which limits groove volume and groove-edge sharpness, effectively replacing U-grooves with V-grooves.

McCarron told the San Francisco Chronicle last week that use of the square-grooved Ping wedge amounted to cheating and he was appalled Mickelson and others had put the club in play.

On Tuesday, however, he criticized the USGA and the PGA Tour for not anticipating the Ping groove problem well before Jan. 1.

"I don't think they believed many players would be using a 20-year-old wedge but if you've got a wedge that actually puts more spin on it, then guys are going to use it," he said.

"They have every right to be able to use it. It is legal. I would just like to see everybody play the same clubs. At the moment, we can't.

"There are many guys out here on Tour who are under contract and who can't play those [Ping wedges], they don't have an option to play them."

McCarron, a veteran of 16 years on the PGA Tour and a member of the circuit's player advisory council, expected the rule to be changed "within 90 to 120 days."

He added: "If we're going to start this process, I think it will take somewhere around that period of time. There are a few options and Commissioner Finchem will discuss them tomorrow."

Finchem had initially been scheduled to hold a news conference after Tuesday's meeting with the players but the Tour has pushed that back to Wednesday morning.

At the meeting, Finchem, 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.

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.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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