<
>

McCarron sorry for implying cheating

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.

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.