Okay, well not really. Or definitely maybe? Who is to say what John Daly will do next, and I’m not really sure I care.
After two more lousy rounds — Daly has rarely played well in the last six years — he apparently told the producer at the Golf Channel, who is doing the “Being John Daly” series, that he was finished. Here’s the post-round interview with the Golf Channel’s producer Al Pollock, who comes off as more of a sycophant than a journalist:
Did Golf Channel jump the gun on this one — Daly seemed to indicate as much when he jumped onto Twitter afterwards — or did he?
Later Daly asked if anyone wanted to buy a golf club. I assume he meant his Ping wedges, which didn’t help Daly but are the hot topic for conversation this weekend, especially after Scott McCarron (as well as Lee Westwood) made remarks saying those players using the wedges — and specifically Phil Mickelson — are cheating. Now in my limited experience, I found McCarron to be a straight shooter, and I think he’s likely speaking more from his heart on this matter than his head. Mickelson, on the other hand, is being pragmatic, taking advantage of a loophole.
Here’s what the LA Times had to say on the matter:
Mickelson, the world’s second-ranked golfer who is playing his first tournament of the season, is among several players, including Daly, who are playing a Ping-Eye 2 wedge. It’s a 20-year-old line of clubs with square grooves which, as of Jan. 1, are banned by the U.S. Golf Assn.
Square grooves are deeper and typically provide more spin than USGA-approved V-shaped grooves. But the Ping club is still legal because the golf manufacturing company reached a lawsuit settlement in 1990 that stipulates any Ping-Eye 2 made before April 1, 1990, is allowed, superseding any rule change.
On Thursday, McCarron responded to Mickelson’s use of the Ping club by saying, “It’s cheating and I’m appalled Phil has put it in play.”
After his Friday round of 67 left him four shots behind the leaders, Mickelson said, “I agree that the rule, it’s a terrible rule. To change to something that has this kind of loophole is nuts. But it’s not up to me or any other player to interpret what the interpretation of the rule is or the spirit of the rule. I understand black and white. And I think that myself or any other player is allowed to play those clubs because they’re approved. End of story.”
Other players seemed to come down on McCarron’s side. Imada, for example, wouldn’t say Mickelson was cheating but did say he wouldn’t use the club.
“It is what it is,” Imada said. “The rules are rules and if it’s allowed by the rules of golf, sure, you can use it. But I don’t agree with it. I don’t know how else to say it. I don’t consider it cheating. . . . I don’t agree with the fact that some guys are being able to use a wedge that’s not conforming — well, it is conforming. But it’s not.”
The PGA Tour issued a statement Friday saying, “We will monitor this situation as we move forward, and under our tournament regulations, we do have the ability to make a local rule which would not allow the clubs. There’s been no decision at this time.”
Mickelson went on to say McCarron had slandered him:
Q. Your thoughts on the statement today with two big bullet points; the wedges on the approved list; two, (indiscernible.) Your thoughts on that?
PHIL MICKELSON: 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.
So who is to blame here? Is Mickelson right? McCarron? I blame the USGA for trying to bring a ridiculous rule into place in the first place. They simply should have done something about the ball — creating a tour ball comes to mind. What we have now is bifurcation anyway, since most amateurs are going to have different wedges in their bags. And this is clearly a wedge rule — since most tour pros only changed their wedges for the start of the year (or at least the ones I’ve heard from). Some have pointed out that McCarron carries a long putter, and should be careful about pointing fingers. But that’s a different matter — long putters are clearly part of the rules, while this ancient wedges are in more of a vague area. And let’s be frank — Mickelson was shooting off his mouth. He’s not about to sue anyone on tour.
One thing is certain — if 20-year-old wedges are better than what the PGA Tour types are playing with now, then that puts the current groove rule into context.
Finally, the PGA Tour should deal with this directly by putting their own rule into place banning the wedges. That way we might have to deal with more from John Daly, but at least we won’t have to hear about his 20-year-old wedges.