News & Tours
January 30, 2010

Mickelson: 'I was publicly slandered'

SAN DIEGO -- Phil Mickelson may have been scattering his tee shots on Saturday, but he was more precise with his post-round comments pertaining to Scott McCarron's accusation that he is cheating.

"I was publicly slandered," Mickelson said. He used the term in at least three separate post-round interviews, even hinting that legal action was not out of the question.

"A line was crossed. I was publicly slandered, and because of that I'll have to let other people handle that," he said.

Could that entail legal actions?

"I'm not sure," he replied. "I think the tour will probably get on top of it."

It was just another day at the office for Mickelson, for whom tedium is never part of his professional repertoire. He stuck one tee shot in a tree on Saturday, resulting a two-stroke penalty, nearly hit another onto infamous Black's Beach, where clothing is optional, and put his second into the water at 18. Add it all up and he carded a two-under par 70 that has him tied for fifth, four shots off the lead heading into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Yet again, his play on the course was overshadowed by developments off it. Mickelson is using a Ping Eye2 wedge with square grooves here, a club that does not adhere to the new USGA rules on grooves, but one that was grandfathered as part of a settlement in 1990 of a suit Ping filed against the USGA.

"It's cheating, and I'm appalled Phil put it in play," McCarron had said.

The PGA Tour responded with a statement exonerating Mickelson of the cheating charge. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in the statement that he'll "address the issue in greater detail on Tuesday...during a regular scheduled player meeting and with the media during the 2010 Northern Trust Open."

"It's ridiculous, isn't it?" Ernie Els said. "Basically all the governing bodies stood back and basically let the players handle the whole issue again. It's almost a little too late now because all the damage has been done. Some players have spoken out against other players, which we don't want to see out here on tour, and it's unfortunate."

--John Strege