Should PGA Suspend Scott McCarron For Accusing Phil Mickelson of Cheating?

Will JeffersonCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2010

IRVING TX  - MAY 21:  Scott McCarron misses a putt for birdie on the 6th hole  during the first round of  the HP Byron Nelson Championship held at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas on May 21, 2009 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Marc Feldman/Getty Images)
Marc Feldman/Getty Images

For those of you who haven't yet heard about the controversy stemming from PGA player Scott McCarron's accusation that Phil Mickelson is "cheating", see my previous article for the full rundown.

The basis for McCarron's allegation was Mickelson's use of a wedge with a recently banned groove-shape on the clubface. However, the 20-year-old wedge used by Mickelson is exempt from the ban as a result of a lawsuit by Ping that pre-dates the groove-shape ban.

Mickelson's club was approved as legal by the USGA prior to his playing it, and several other tour members have been using wedges similarly exempt from the rule.

Over the weekend, Mickelson, angered by the highly inflammatory accusation leveled against him by McCarron said that he had been "publicly slandered" and gave several hints that he may pursue legal action against McCarron.

Mickelson qualified his comments by seeming to leave it open that he would not need to resort to that if the Tour appropriately dealt with the incident.

So far, the PGA Tour has released a statement regarding use of the wedge saying "public comments or criticisms characterizing their use as a violation of the Rules of Golf as promulgated by the USGA are inappropriate at best."

However, it remains to be seen if that is enough to satisfy Mickelson.

That is especially in question given McCarron's continued public statements defending rather than apologizing for his "cheating" accusation.

Today, McCarron said he will "not be silenced" until the issue is resolved. "I am still appalled by the fact that any player would make the choice to put this controversial wedge in play, and I stand by my previous comments."

Florida Times-Union writer Garry Smits has further suggested that the comments by McCarron seem a bit odd in view of the fact that McCarron has used a long putter in the past, "a club some players believe is cheating since it involves anchoring one or both hands against the chest during a putting stroke to steady shaky nerves."

In terms of precedent, in 1997, the PGA suspended five-time tournament winner Ken Green for 30 days for calling Hall-of-Famer Raymond Floyd a cheater over what Green thought was an improper drop at Doral 10 years earlier. Floyd, incidentally, was the captain of the 1989 US Ryder Cup team that included Green in Green's only appearance in that event.

The current allegations against Mickelson should be at least as unappreciated by the PGA Tour, seeing as Mickelson is currently the tour's most marquee-name and marketable player during the current indefinite absence of Tiger Woods.

In addition, McCarron is a member of the PGA players' advisory council, adding to the profile of his criticism, and so to the embarrassment of Mickelson and the Tour.

Should the PGA suspend McCarron, and if so, for how long? Should the Tour strip McCarron of his membership on the advisory council?

And what about Mickelson. Should he sue McCarron? Should he drop any suit if the Tour punishes McCarron with a significant suspension? Should Mickelson also demand a public apology from McCarron?

Or is the damage done, and nothing but a lawsuit can make up for the loss to Mickelson's integrity and reputation?