Last week when Phil Mickelson declared he would be playing with an old Ping Eye-2 lob wedge, it instigated all sorts of controversy over the new grooves regulations. In Wednesday’s press conference, a prickly Phil explained his vehement distaste for the USGA’s rule and demanded it be rectified:
In regards to the groove and playing the club and whatnot, I have been very upset over the way the entire groove rule has come about and its total lack of transparency. I’m very upset with the way the rule came about, the way one man essentially can approve or not approve a golf club based on his own personal decision regardless of what the rule says. This has got to change. To come out and change a rule like this that has a loophole has got to change. It’s ridiculous. It hurts the game, and you cannot put the players in a position to interpret what the rule has meant. That’s why we have a decisions book, to decide this stuff.
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 rule-making process needs to be changed.
He also implied that his decision to use the Ping Eye-2 wedge last week was to bring about the shortcomings of the new grooves guidelines:
So this week I won’t be playing that wedge. My point has been made. I won’t play it. But if these governing bodies cannot get together to fix this loophole, if players stop using this wedge, which would stop the pressing of the issue, then I will relook at it and put the wedge back in play. But I hope that players continue to play the wedge. I hope that the governing bodies get forced into changing their rule-making process. I hope there’s more transparency amongst the governing body. We cannot have one man have arbitrary power over this. It’s frustrating for players, and it’s extremely frustrating for manufacturers, and I hope all this stuff gets changed.
He added that it was out of respect for the other players. (What a hero!) But he sure got irritated when pressed on the issue:
Q. So as far as making a point, you said you think you made your point with putting the club in last week; you said it was because it was an advantage that was under the rules. Was there any reason that you put it in your bag last week to make a point that it was a ridiculous rule?
MICKELSON: I didn’t catch all that jarble (sic), but I thought my point was pretty clear amongst most everybody else.
Yikes. That’s all for now — I must run off to this event, where I’ll stumble over my words in a different forum.