Mickelson ready to get back to golf

When Phil Mickelson goes for an unprecedented third straight win

at the Northern Trust Open starting Thursday, none of the 14 clubs

in his bag will be a Ping Eye2 wedge that put him in the spotlight

and eventually at the lectern.

“How do you think that went?” Mickelson said Wednesday during

his pro-am round.

He was talking about his interview hours earlier, in which he

shifted his angst from Scott McCarron’s accusation of “cheating”

to the USGA for its “ridiculous” manner of handling the new rule

on grooves.

McCarron apologized and Mickelson accepted, although even Lefty

is curious whether McCarron will face disciplinary action from the

PGA Tour for his choice of words. Even PGA Tour commissioner Tim

Finchem said there was “no justification” for such language.

Otherwise, case closed.

“It’s not easy to come up and face that person, look them in

the eye and apologize, and he did that and was very sincere,”

Mickelson said. “And I accepted the apology. I appreciate him

being a big enough man to do that.”

From there, Mickelson took dead aim at the USGA and senior

technical director Dick Rugge, although he didn’t mention him by

name.

He is upset by two things – that the USGA was not more

transparent in developing the new rule on grooves, and the USGA and

PGA Tour knew there would be issues with 20-year-old Ping wedges

and weren’t prepared to cope with the consequence.

“This has got to change,” Mickelson said. “To come out and

change a rule like this that has a loophole … it’s ridiculous. It

hurts the game, and you cannot put the players in a position to

interpret what the rule has meant. 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 is where it gets confusing.

Mickelson said he would not use the Ping Eye2 wedge at the

Northern Trust Open because “my point has been made.” His hope,

however, is that other players will continue to use the wedge and

draw more attention to the debate.

“If there’s no pressure among these organizations to make

changes, I will immediately put the club back in play,” he

said.

One other point to consider.

Even if the PGA Tour can work out an arrangement with Ping on a

local rule that bans the wedge, those wedges will be approved at

the U.S. Open, because the USGA is held to a different settlement.

Don’t be surprised to see Lefty at least put that wedge back in the

bag at Pebble Beach in June.

Either way, all Mickelson wants to do is answer questions about

his golf.

He has made his public peace with McCarron, and there’s not much

left to say. It’s now up to Finchem to figure out how to make the

playing field level for everyone.

The greater concern is the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, and

the strongest field so far this year on the PGA Tour.

Mickelson is playing with Robert Allenby, one of the hottest

players in golf, and Adam Scott, who turned his fortunes around

late last year by winning the Australian Open.

Padraig Harrington is making his 2010 debut, while Anthony Kim

is playing for the first time on the PGA Tour. Others in the field

include Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and 18-year-old Ryo

Ishikawa of Japan.