Thursday, February 04, 2010
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Mickelson ready to get back to golf

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[February 04, 2010]  LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Phil Mickelson is ready to get back to golf.

Mickelson goes for an unprecedented third straight victory at Riviera when the Northern Trust Open gets under way on Thursday. Of the 14 clubs in his bag, none will be a Ping Eye2 wedge that put him in the spotlight and eventually at the lectern.

"How do you think that went?" Mickelson said during his pro-am round.

InsuranceHe was talking about his interview hours earlier, in which he shifted his angst from Scott McCarron's accusation of "cheating" to the USGA for its "ridiculous" manner of handling the new rule on grooves.

McCarron apologized and Mickelson accepted, although even Lefty is curious whether McCarron will face disciplinary action from the PGA Tour for his choice of words. Even PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said there was "no justification" for such language.

Otherwise, case closed.


"It's not easy to come up and face that person, look them in the eye and apologize, and he did that and was very sincere," Mickelson said. "And I accepted the apology. I appreciate him being a big enough man to do that."

From there, Mickelson took dead aim at the USGA and senior technical director Dick Rugge, although he didn't mention him by name.

He is upset by two things -- that the USGA was not more transparent in developing the new rule on grooves, and the USGA and PGA Tour knew there would be issues with 20-year-old Ping wedges and weren't prepared to cope with the consequence.

"This has got to change," Mickelson said. "To come out and change a rule like this that has a loophole ... it's ridiculous. It hurts the game, and you cannot put the players in a position to interpret what the rule has meant. This should have been decided well before this came out. It put me and it put all players in a bad spot. And it needs to be changed."

This is where it gets confusing.

Mickelson said he would not use the Ping Eye2 wedge at the Northern Trust Open because "my point has been made." His hope, however, is that other players will continue to use the wedge and draw more attention to the debate.

"If there's no pressure among these organizations to make changes, I will immediately put the club back in play," he said.

One other point to consider.

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Even if the PGA Tour can work out an arrangement with Ping on a local rule that bans the wedge, those wedges will be approved at the U.S. Open, because the USGA is held to a different settlement. Don't be surprised to see Lefty at least put that wedge back in the bag at Pebble Beach in June.

Either way, all Mickelson wants to do is answer questions about his golf.

He has made his public peace with McCarron, and there's not much left to say. It's now up to Finchem to figure out how to make the playing field level for everyone.

The greater concern is Riviera, and the strongest field so far this year on the PGA Tour.

Mickelson is playing with Robert Allenby, one of the hottest players in golf, and Adam Scott, who turned his fortunes around late last year by winning the Australian Open.

Padraig Harrington is making his 2010 debut, while Anthony Kim is playing for the first time on the PGA Tour. Others in the field include Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa of Japan.

[Associated Press; By DOUG FERGUSON]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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