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Phil Mickelson called a cheater. And Phil isn't mad.

January 29, 2010 |  4:13 pm

Mickelson_300 Fellow PGA Tour golfer Scott McCarron said that Phil Mickelson's decision to use a Ping Eye 2 wedge was cheating in a story in the Friday San Francisco Chronicle.

Mickelson responded after his second-round 67 at the Farmers Insurance Open left him tied for 10th and four shots off the lead at Torrey Pines by saying he understood what McCarron was talking about.

This club, a wedge, has square grooves. The US. Golf Assn., which runs the U.S. Open, banned square-grooved clubs in a rule change that took effect Jan. 1. But club manufacturer Ping won a lawsuit several years ago and because of the suit, clubs made before April, 1, 1990, are allowed. Mickelson is among the players (so is John Daly) who are using the old club (it allows golfers to put more spin on the ball).

"I agree that the rule, it's a terrible rule," Mickelson said. "To change to something that has this kind of loophole is nuts. But it's not up to me or any other player to interpret what the interpretation of the rule is or the spirit of the rule. I understand black and white. And I think that myself or any other player is allowed to play those clubs because they're approved. End of story."

Ryuji Imada, who is tied for the lead in the tournament after two rounds, said he wouldn't say Mickelson was cheating. But he also wouldn't use the club.

"It is what it is," Imada said. "The rules are rules and if it's allowed by the rules of golf, sure, you can use it. But I don't agree with it. I don't know how else to say it. I don't consider it cheating. . . . I don't agree with the fact that some guys are being able to use a wedge that's not conforming -- well, it is conforming. But it's not."

Are you clear on that? Because even the golfers don't seem to be.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Phil Mickelson chips onto the 13th green during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Friday. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images