Singh puts foot down over Mickelson's spikes

Complaint causes conflict

Nicklaus, others kill time


The Masters

April 09, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. - The first controversy of the 69th Masters festered yesterday during the rain delay - and ultimate postponement of the second round - between two of the tournament's headliners.

After rumors surfaced earlier in the day that Vijay Singh had complained to tournament officials about Phil Mickelson chewing up the 12th green with his size-12 spikes during Thursday's opening round, a high-ranking member of the club admitted that a complaint had been lodged by an unspecified player.

Will Nicholson, the chairman of the competition committee, said the tournament office received a call shortly after Mickelson finished playing the par-3 hole and his spikes were checked to see if they had a burr on one of them.

"He was very generous, as you know he would, said he would change them when he got in if there was a problem," Nicholson said. "There wasn't. If there were some spike marks, it was created by person or persons unknown."

Though Singh was unavailable to comment, Mickelson released a statement last night.

"On the 13th hole, two officials approached me at different times," Mickelson said. "They were sent by Vijay to check my spikes because he felt they were unduly damaging the greens. If that was the case, I am very apologetic and will make every effort to tap down what spike marks I made in the future."

Mickelson, who was playing in the group ahead of Singh on Thursday, wasn't through with the world's No. 1 ranked player. It led to a confrontation in the locker room during Thursday's rain delay.

"I am extremely distracted, and it would have been appreciated if it would have been handled differently or after the round," Mickelson said. "After sitting in the locker room for a while, I heard Vijay talking to other players about it and I confronted him. I expressed my disappointment with the way it was handled. I believe everything is fine now."

Stay tuned, especially if Mickelson, at 2-under, and Singh, at 4-under, wind up in the same pairing later today or tomorrow.

Killing time

Jack Nicklaus was sitting in the locker room reserved for former champions yesterday when an announcement was made around 3:20 p.m. that play would be resumed in a little more than an hour.

Suddenly, a bunch of younger players left for the practice tee.

"I'm sitting there and saying, `Huh?'" Nicklaus recalled later. "[Ray] Floyd, [Tom] Watson and [Gary] Player and I were sitting upstairs. We all said, `I think we're going to watch television for another half hour and see what happens.' We knew that we may play or we may not play, but we certainly don't need an hour and a half to warm up."

There was a lot of television being watched - mostly The Weather Channel - and a few players catching up on sleep. Chris DiMarco, who shared the clubhouse lead at 5-under with David Howell and Luke Donald, said he did some storytelling.

With one problem.

"This is four weeks in a row [of rounds being postponed by rain] so everybody is telling the same stories," DiMarco said. "They get old after a while."

Stewart Cink said the long delay spurred his appetite.

"I ate," he said. "Three times."

After having lunch with his girlfriend, Howell took a nap next to Padraig Harrington.

"He had a hat over his head," Howell said. "He was snoring when I woke up."

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