Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Phil Mickelson sparks controversy as four players tie for US Open lead

Phil Mickelson sparks controversy as four players tie for US Open lead

Not exactly a good look for Lefty.

That came after Mickelson's "moment of madness", as playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston described it. "Sometimes in these situations, it's just easier to take the 2 shots and move on". I took the two-shot penalty and moved on. "I think he just snapped at how bad his speed was on that putt".

"I don't mean any disrespect, and if that's the way people took it, I apologise to them".

According to his wife, via Alan Bastable of, Mickelson called USGA executive director Mike Davis on Saturday evening and offered to withdraw. There was actually some chatter about Mickelson being disqualified based on Rule 33-7 or Rule 1-2; however, the USGA made a decision to penalize him under Rule 14-5 and not Rule 1-2 because Mickelson did not deflect or stop the ball. "If you look at it, rule 14-5 explicitly covers a player making a stroke at a moving ball, and so we operated under that rule". "So it's just, it's us applying the rules".

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The astonishing moment occurred after the five-time major champion missed the hole with a short putt, and his ball kept trickling and trickling down the hill. "He played a moving ball". USGA officials had reviewed his actions on 13 green and decided that the two-stroke penalty was the appropriate penance.

Mickelson said he knew the action would bring a two-shot penalty, and that he had hit the ball to prevent it from rolling off the green. He might have been disqualified had they applied Rule 1-2, about purposefully striking a moving ball to gain significant advantage.

His playing partner, Andrew "Beef" Johnston from England, who came home in 44 to sign for an 82 which left him in last place, described the incident as "one of those mad moments" but admitted he could not help but see the amusing side.

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It was not immediately clear what was Mickelson's motive in striking the ball. "It was unusual, no one ever has those thoughts, it just happens". "If that is not a serious breach of the etiquette of the game, I don't know what is".

If Mickelson had a bad moment on the 13th green during his third round, his final round brought a much happier occasion.

The left-hander returned to the scene of his rule breach on Sunday, smiling and celebrating in mock fashion after saving par. "I've wanted to do it many times before and finally did", said Mickelson. I should have done it a couple of times on 15 at Augusta. Mickelson shot even par on the first three holes and birdied the par-4 fourth hole, putting him at 5-over for the championship.

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