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Mickelson, Harrington, Daly using PING wedges for grooves. Unfair advantage?

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I just find it incredible that the governing bodies didn't foresee players going to these lenghts to gain that advantage, perhaps they underestimated the players in that regard.

Perhaps the USGA knows there's only a few hundred of the wedges out there and that even if a pro can get some more performance, they'll face the stigma of playing them, the fact that they'll have to adapt, the knowledge that they'll wear out and they won't have a replacement, and the fact that they'll be looking down at something different.

Pros don't like to change, and this isn't as big a deal as anyone's making it. How many guys have actually used the clubs? Dean Wilson? He's used 'em forever. John Daly? So what? Hell, the only reason Phil used 'em was because he's trying to make a point (coming off as a jerk in doing so, IMHO, but still).

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Well, it looks like this should die out , Mickelson says he is taking the wedge out of the bag, and he has accepted an apology from Scott McCarron, though the article says Phil hopes other players will continue to play the wedge, further exemplifying the fact that Mickelson was just looking to make a point by playing the wedge. I find it weird that he stopped playing the wedge even though he encouraged other players to use it, it sound like he doesn't want to fight the battle, possibly because the wedge wasn't actually giving him any more spin. Anyone have any thoughts?

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Perhaps the USGA knows there's only a few hundred of the wedges out there and that even if a pro can get some more performance, they'll face the stigma of playing them, the fact that they'll have to adapt, the knowledge that they'll wear out and they won't have a replacement, and the fact that they'll be looking down at something different.

A 17-4 wedge will wear out, but how fast? And can't they re-mill the grooves?

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Well,

Well, that's good news at least -- although, in the part replaced by an ellipsis in the quote above, Mickelson still does himself no favours.

For what it's worth, here's my opinion: 1. Obviously, Mickelson & Co haven't "cheated" by playing the Eye2s. In a golf tournament, "cheating" means acting contrary to the rules that apply to that tournament. They didn't do that. 2. McCarron was therefore wrong to call Mickelson a cheat. I know he didn't use the word "cheat", but (as another poster said above) it's implicit that someone is a "cheat" when you describe their actions as "cheating". 3. That said, Mickelson was a git to put the Eye2 in his bag. It should have been clear that any performance advantage he could obtain from using this dinosaur wedge would be overshadowed by the obvious and predictable criticism that it was obtained through a loophole in the rules that arises only by way of historical accident. The outcry was predictable because it's not a good look for the PGA Tour to have its players scouring ebay for old equipment that wouldn't conform to the rules without a special exemption. In any event (and, again, as I think someone else wrote above), he can't win here: if the wedges don't perform well, he looks ridiculous; and if they do, questions will be asked, however unfairly, about his integrity. 4. Mickelson is also a git because he appears to have played the Eye2 primarily to embarrass the USGA, whether that's because he dislikes the new rule or because he's annoyed that Callaway's MAW grooves weren't approved (or both). There are better ways of making a point, I think. As an aside: one potential problem with the legality of "grandfathered" clubs like the Eye2 is that they cannot necessarily be obtained by everyone. There's only a limited number of them out there. Of course, this would be an issue only if it was true that the performance of these wedges was significantly better than that of modern wedges (which I doubt). I know that there's no guarantee that everyone will always have access to the same equipment -- just look at the equipment that's available to lefties, for example -- but particular problems might arise where a grandfathered club carries a real performance advantage over the legal clubs that are manufactured today, precisely because the grandfathering of the club makes it artificially scarce.

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And can't they re-mill the grooves?

Not legally.

4. Mickelson is also a git because he appears to have played the Eye2 primarily to embarrass the USGA, whether that's because he dislikes the new rule or because he's annoyed that Callaway's MAW grooves weren't approved (or both). There are better ways of making a point, I think.

I agree - it really makes Phil look like an ass.

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Phil's playing the Ping wedge to prove a point (i.e., to embarrass the USGA) recalls his actions during the 2007 FedEx Cup Playoffs. At the time, since the point system wasn't volatile, you could skip an playoff event and lose little ground in the standings (assuming you were in the top ten or so). In fact, Tiger skipped the first event -- yet comfortably won the Cup. Anyway, after conquering Tiger (and the field) in the second event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, Phil was briefly interviewed off the 18th green and asked if he would compete the next week. He didn't answer definitely, instead remarking , "My frustration from this past year came from asking for a couple of things in the FedEx Cup that weren't done, and not feeling all that bad now if I happen to miss [an event]." Phil said nothing else on the subject for two days, until he officially withdrew from the third Cup event, retreating from his earlier statement : "This decision was not an easy one to make and in no way is meant as disrespectful to the Tour or 'sending a message' to anyone." Even if you bought his new explanation (more family time), the entire affair had to leave a lousy flavor -- Phil gets angry (after winning an event, no less), scorns everything (an entire system) yet nothing (no specific individuals or decisions), and says no further; his few words are over-examined, and he comes across badly. This grooves ordeal has the same pattern: Phil and his arrogance take some ill-defined stand that brings no changes, other than making him look like more of a pompous jerk.

Another note: fantastic interview (it's audio) with Padraig Harrington, who says the Ping wedges were easier to control -- at least for him -- out of the rough. He is undecided about whether to play the Eye2s this week.

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For any clubs, or just the Pings?

For the PINGs for one, and for any clubs if it puts them out of the scope of being legal.

The PINGs can't be refinished. You can do whatever to other parts of the club (like lead tape, adjusting the grind, etc.) but you can't touch the face.

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For the PINGs for one, and for any clubs if it puts them out of the scope of being legal.

So, to get this correctly, you can recut worn out conforming grooves to conforming standards, but you can't cut Ping grooves back to their original (and legal) state?

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A thought occurs to me: PING is looking up serial numbers to confirm when it was made. But there are plenty of counterfeit clubs with serial numbers that match legitimate clubs. On whom does the burden of proof lie that the club is a legitimate pre-1990 PING Eye 2?

To be clear, I'm not trying to imply that Phil or JD - or anyone for that matter - is using a fake club, nor do I think they would. I'm just wondering what would stop new "pre-1990" clubs (complete with otherwise-not-conforming grooves) from coming out and, with players buying them on eBay, the clubs finding their way into play?

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A thought occurs to me: PING is looking up serial numbers to confirm when it was made. But there are plenty of counterfeit clubs with serial numbers that match legitimate clubs. On whom does the burden of proof lie that the club is a legitimate pre-1990 PING Eye 2?

I was thinking the same thing. Receipts are the best weapon, but 20 year old receipts? I doubt many exist, even for such a large purchase as a set of irons. I imagine that, in the end, it doesn't matter that much anyway.

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For any clubs, or just the Pings? If you can't sharpen grooves, that would mean you'd need a new wedge everytime your grooves wear out.

Yes. If they can't be refinished to a conforming state, then they are worn out.

So, to get this correctly, you can recut worn out conforming grooves to conforming standards, but you can't cut Ping grooves back to their original (and legal) state?

Yes and yes. The legal settlement only covered the Ping wedges in their original state. Resharpening the grooves necessarily removes additional material, and thus they no longer qualify.

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Here are some recent quotes from Phil:

I won't play it [at the NTO]. But if these governing bodies cannot get together to fix this loophole, if the 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

So Phil will start using the wedge if the players start policing themselves, just to force the issue. WOW

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 [USGA Senior Technical Director Dick Rugge] have arbitrary power over this.

It's frustrating for the players, and it's extremely frustrating for the manufacturers, and I hope all this stuff gets changed...If it doesn't ... I will immediately put the club back in play.

While I can understand the complaint that supposedly only one person, namely the USGA Senior Technical Director makes all the ruling, is not very transparent and could be unfair, but would anybody confirm that this is true? Even so, Phil is just looking worse and is loosing a lot of my respect.

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While I can understand the complaint that supposedly only one person, namely the USGA Senior Technical Director makes all the ruling, is not very transparent and could be unfair, but would anybody confirm that this is true? Even so, Phil is just looking worse and is loosing a lot of my respect.

I respectfully disagree; I think Phil is using the most effective method he feels he has to express, and draw to attention, a widely held concern amongst the players. I think he's assuming that role because because he feels as though its his responsibility as the TOUR's high ranking player in the field. Obviously it's only my perception, but I believe he dosen't care about using the club, he just wants this wishy-washy ruling to be made black & white, eliminating the loop-hole.

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I respectfully disagree; I think Phil is using the most effective method he feels he has to express, and draw to attention, a widely held concern amongst the players. I think he's assuming that role because because he feels as though its his responsibility as the TOUR's high ranking player in the field. Obviously it's only my perception, but I believe he dosen't care about using the club, he just wants this wishy-washy ruling to be made black & white, eliminating the loop-hole.

Nah. Phil doesn't care about the loophole. He's pissed because Callaway developed what they felt was a conforming groove that was not approved. Sometimes it's as simple as that. He's using the PING simply as a means to achieve what he hopes is the end: the reversal of this rule or "more transparent rules making."

Again, I don't know what kind of groove they came up with. The best explanation I've seen was "a martini glass" shape of some kind. I don't know if the martini glass was upside down or right side up or whether the stem was part of the grooves or what. If it looked like either of these, I'd call it non-conforming too because it's not plain and the top one has converging walls. But it's really that simple - Phil is pissed about the MAW and he's using the PING. In doing so, IMHO, he looks like a clown. Virtually every other player on the PGA Tour supports the change in the rule, and these guys don't say "I like the rule change" if they don't. They just beg off answering the question. It'd be nice to either hear the USGA's side of things or to see what the groove was.

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Nah. Phil doesn't care about the loophole. He's pissed because Callaway developed what they felt was a conforming groove that was not approved. Sometimes it's as simple as that. He's using the PING simply as a means to achieve what he hopes is the end: the reversal of this rule or "more transparent rules making."

I'll buy that perspective, but I would still offer he's making a stance against a rule he feels is ambiguous and needs further definition (citing Callaway's attempt to develop a conforming groove that was subsequently not approved).

It'd be nice to either hear the USGA's side of things or to see what the groove was.

yeah, I'm curious...

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