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Players unhappy about Phil Mickelson's pro-am miss

Phil Mickelson has fronted Australian golfer Rod Pampling over his comment that the American should have been disqualified from the US PGA Tour's Byron Nelson Championship.

Three-time major championship winner Mickelson missed last Wednesday's pre-tournament pro-am after being stranded by bad weather in the adjacent state of Arkansas, where he played a charity outing the previous day.

Such an absence is cause for automatic disqualification from the event proper, but the US PGA Tour granted Mickelson a reprieve under the "extenuating circumstances" clause, citing the weather as an act of nature.

Pampling and many other players thought Mickelson was given special treatment because of his star status, and Pampling said so publicly.

The words got back to world No 4 Mickelson, who obviously wasn't too pleased.

"Phil came and had a chat with me," said Pampling, after finishing equal 10th, six strokes behind American winner Scott Verplank at the Four Seasons TPC.

"He explained he was there (in Arkansas) not making any money out of it, which helped the (tour's) decision making."

Pampling accepted Mickelson's point but did not change his opinion.

"At the end of the day, this is not an issue about Phil," Pampling continued.

"I explained it's not personal and he understands that.

"It's the tour's decision. He was just the guy given the pass. I still don't think he should have been in the field."

Pampling said he had spoken to roughly 40 other players about the matter, and not one thought Mickelson should have been allowed to play.

With that controversy hanging over his head, Mickelson did well to finish equal third, three strokes behind Verplank, who wobbled home a putt from inside one metre at the final hole to edge Englishman Luke Donald by one shot.


May 1, 2007

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