Furious Mickelson squares up to Singh

The animosity which supposedly bristles between the Big Four was given full, gnarling expression yesterday as Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh squared up to each other in the Champions' Locker room.

The animosity which supposedly bristles between the Big Four was given full, gnarling expression yesterday as Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh squared up to each other in the Champions' Locker room.

The "heated discussion" was sparked by an official complaint lodged by Singh against Mickelson, which claimed that the defending champion's golf shoes had caused spike marks on the 12th green.

"I understand there was a complaint from Vijay and one of our referees was called in to inspect the spikes and to take off any offending burrs," said a tournament spokesman. "Some of the spikes were quite old ones but I understand Vijay wanted something done about it. It was not a problem after that."

That was only the official line, however, as Mickelson was believed to be furious with the world No 1 after he was cautioned by an Augusta National bigwig as he walked off the 13th tee. Singh, playing in the group behind, asked officials to clean up the spike marks.

This will be undoubtedly draw even more bad feeling towards the Fijian who a few weeks ago was implicated in Tiger Woods being hauled in to have his driver tested after Singh's best friend on tour, Tom Pernice Jnr, rang the powers that be to have a check carried out after seeing Woods bomb tee-shots past rivals on the television. Woods later exonerated Singh of blame for that incident. This time the furore will not die down so easily.

On Thursday officials were forced to call in Woods to go through the video tapes to see whether he was liable for a two-shot penalty. At least one "eagle-eyed" viewer - although others might wish to apply a different adjective - had rang in to query the world No 2's tap-in with the toe-end of his putter on the 14th green. Woods had simply been obeying the etiquette that says you should never stand on a partner's line, but in doing so almost incurred a penalty.

The ruling in question concerns "standing astride or on the line of putt", which states that a player "must not make a stroke on the putting green from a stance astride or with either foot touching the line of putt or an extension of that line behind the ball". That basically means players cannot adopt a croquet-style stance. Thankfully, Will Nicholson, the tournament chairman, saw sense. "The tape was inconclusive," he said. "No penalty will be assessed."

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