OT US Open, USGA and Phil Mickleson

Submitted by Hail Harbo on June 16th, 2018 at 7:55 PM

If you hadn't already heard, today during the round three, on the 13th hole Mickleson missed a putt sending the ball rolling well past the hole and down hill.  Instead of waiting for it to stop so he could line up his next putt he chased the still rolling ball and hit it back up the slope to within four feet of the hole.  The USGA ruled that Mickleson's actions were not extreme and that he would be assessed a two stroke penalty.  However, the USGA could have ruled Mickleson's actions extreme and unsportsman like and DQ'd him.  Currently USGA officials are bending over backward to explain why Mickleson hasn't been DQ'd.

Now I like Lefty as much as anybody, but this is behavior that the USGA and fellow golfers should never condone and surely not let pass with a mere two stroke penalty.  How many players would have won tournaments if they had thought to catch a ball before it rolled off the green, into the water, or into a pot bunker?  



June 16th, 2018 at 8:18 PM ^

Yeah I hate to say it but he should have been DQed.  It really was a huge advantage not to have to play his next shot from well off the green.  If thattis not a aserious breach" of the rule, for which the USGA can impose the penalty, then I don't know what is. 

Though is way off the lead and made a 10 on the par 4 with the 2 stroke penalty, the "serious breach" language is theee for a reason, this one.


June 16th, 2018 at 9:04 PM ^

Why does it matter if he stops the ball? Seems irrelevent in the context of whether he shoukdnhave been DQed. A player must not (i) take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play or (ii) alter physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of a hole. Penalty for Breach of Rule 1-2: Match play - Loss of hole; Stroke play - Two strokes. *In the case of a serious breach of Rule 1-2, the Committee may impose a penalty of disqualification. --- Only question is whether it was serious enough to warrant DQ. Committee says no, others say committee was very soft.

Hail Harbo

June 16th, 2018 at 9:18 PM ^

One thing to stub a 12" putt and then guide it into the hole...two stroke penalty.   IMO, far different to run twenty feet to chase down a horrible putt and then, while the ball is still rolling downhill, stroke it back uphill to the vicinity of the cup.  The USGA says that is not a serious breach of the rule, the USGA now owes all of us duffers an explanation and an example of a serious breach of Rule 1-2 that would warrant a DQ.


June 16th, 2018 at 9:37 PM ^

It is not irrelevant at all. I'm a former USGA rules official.

The applicable rule is 14-5, not 1-2, because he made a stroke on a moving ball. If you are asking why 14-5 exists, and only 1-2 should exist, the answers exceed the character limit. 

The rule applied to the situation is always the rule which most closely matches the circumstances: 14-5.

Please do not misconstrue my interpretations as support of his action.

Not only is he of the games greatest icons, Phil is a great guy. He's incredibly generous and charitable in ways he insists keeping private. I know he's mortified at what he did. He knows his spin control lacks rotation, as what he did was stupid, even from a game/rules management perspective. He should have taken his medicine. If he wanted to "be smart" or make a statement, he should have taken an unplayable. He snapped. Plain and simple.


June 16th, 2018 at 10:24 PM ^

I agree with you in sentiment. I also believe he would love to be on his G5 heading to San Diego.

But, believe it or not, there will be at least 500 fans currently holding tickets who plan on following him on his round tomorrow. If he plays well, he will get some air time for his sponsors. He will meet with the press, sign autographs, and do what is expected of him.

He broke a rule, and he paid the penalty. The rules are always being argued, but he played within the rules. 

I personally take more umbrage to the Tiger ruling at Augusta. 


June 17th, 2018 at 12:08 PM ^

He broke a rule, and took a two stoke penalty.

Players intentionally break rules in other sports very frequently. Should a player who intentionally fouls in basketball, or spikes a ball with the clock running in football be kicked out of the game?

Golf is different in that the rules are incredibly comprehensive, and intentional rule breaking is virtually never to the players advantage.

Even in this case, what he did was a stupid from every perspective, and not to his advantage. 


June 16th, 2018 at 8:26 PM ^

Almost all players, almost always, would prefer to be off the green, in the water or in a bunker as opposed to a 2 stroke penalty. Also, any player that knows the rules knows that you can take an unplayable lie anywhere but in a water hazard, for a 1 stroke penalty.

It would have been more embarrassing for the USGA if Phil had allowed his ball to roll off the green, took an unplayable lie, and putted over again. It would have been smarter, as only a one stroke penalty would have been assessed. 

In any event, the story now is the USGA, and how they had a chance to redeem themselves after the 2004 event, and came up with something even worse.


June 18th, 2018 at 6:03 PM ^

This is no different than taking an intentional foul in basketball.  Well except for the fact that Phil wasn't in contention to win, didn't improve his chances of winning by doing this, and sped up the game instead of slowing it down.


If you're going to hate somebody for committing intentional fouls, start with the entire NBA.  


June 16th, 2018 at 11:10 PM ^

Interesting to discuss, but I think the USGA got it right. He committed a violation and was assessed the required 2 stroke penalty. It may have been deliberate and dumb, but it doesn’t warrant a DQ. 


June 17th, 2018 at 6:02 AM ^

Not that Phil cares what I think but ill never look at him the same way after this. Golfers call penalties on themselves at times. Can't imagine NBA players calling a foul on themselves or NFL lineman calling a holding on himself either.  Golf is different imo and what Phil did goes against that. 

This will be a stain on his career. 


June 17th, 2018 at 12:30 PM ^

I agree with the stain comment. That film clip is now part of who he is, forever. It will be played with the Masters jump, and the Winged foot 18 tee clips, especially if he fails to complete the slam. 

I'm certain he's ashamed of that, as he should be. 

His body of work, and off course conduct speak for themselves, though. I see him as great player and person who snapped. If he had fessed up and apologized, it would have been a 1 day story.


June 17th, 2018 at 8:19 AM ^

I think they might have ruled differently on a different course. But the USGA CEO was on yesterday talking about how they didn’t expect it to be quite this difficult. Personally, I think it’s a nice change of pace to watch the best in the world on a course where they have about a 33% chance of bogeying any given hole. I don’t want to watch that all the time, just like I don’t want to watch every tournament have a winner finish 20 under. 

Steve Breaston…

June 17th, 2018 at 6:19 PM ^

He is the most unlikeable asshole in golf, and that counts Patrick Reed and Sergio. I hate his facade and the fact that it hides his degenerate gambling and other vices.