A fuss was made last weekend about Phil Mickelson electing to use an old wedge during the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
For those who don't know, the USGA made a change this year which outlaws square grooves on higher lofted clubs. This change limits the amount of control a player can have on the spin of the ball. A loophole in the rule, however, allows some clubs made before 1990 to still be used, even if they don't fit into the groove restrictions.
Enter Phil Mickelson and his Ping Eye 2 wedge -- an old club, but one that has the square grooves.
What Mickelson did was not against the letter, but the spirit of the rules. As I learned during my undergraduate education at SSU in Dr. Rader's Sport Management program, the reason this is exactly why we need so many rules. If they can get away with it, people won't play fair.
This kind of spirit has been rapidly disappeared in sports, but it is especially sad to see this in golf -- a sport where honor and sportsmanship are primary values because players are often far from one another and rely on others' to penalize themselves for on-course hazard.
Lefty, who in spite of his advantage finished the tournament in 19th place, declared that his "point had been made" and said he would not be using the club anymore.
In Layman's terms, the pressure was too much for Mickelson.
Phil has always had a reputation for struggling in high-pressure situations. this season, he already has pressure to win because Tiger isn't on the course. Now the media and fans were talking about the top player left on the tour using a club that few others were willing to.
If he was out to make a point, he'd have done it another way. This was a case of Phil trying to get an edge, but it didn't quite work out as planned.
I've enjoyed watching Mickelson play for years and will continue to pull for him in most tournaments. Last weekend, however, he made a mistake and was rightly criticized by players and media pundits alike.
It was fitting that he had a typical Sunday of one-over par, which dropped him out of contention and into a 19th-place finish.
At least he did the right thing and put the Eye 2 back on the shelf before this week's Northern Trust Open. Maybe now he can focus on siezing the tour's No. 1 spot before Tiger returns to claim his throne.