'Embarrassed' Mickelson apologises for U.S. Open rules violation

Posted June 21, 2018

Later, after acknowledging he was using Rule 14-5 to his advantage, Mickelson called USGA officials for clarification on the rule after hearing suggestions he should be disqualified from the U.S. Open.

Phil Mickelson caused a social media storm and much discussion between fans, pundits and players when the multiple major champion decided to deliberately make a stroke at his moving ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills on Saturday.

Hitting a moving ball incurs a two-stroke penalty, and Mickelson was eventually assessed with a six-over 10 at the par-four hole.

"During play of the 13th hole Phil Mickelson made a stroke on the putting green at the time his ball was moving", the USGA said in a statement.

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"I don't mean any disrespect". I took the two shots and moved on. "I gladly take the two-shot penalty".

The five-time major champion was given a two-shot penalty for the rule breach on his 48th birthday, resulting in a 10 and a horror 11-over third round of 81 to fall back to 17 over. So how can you complain about a course, there are tee times set aside for each golfer to have the chance to study and prepare.

Some believed the USGA was displaying deference to one of golf's most popular figures, though, by making a very narrow interpretation of the rule (14-5) governing that situation, one that says, "A player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving". It's my understanding of the rules. At 4, it looked like he was going to put himself in a big jam after hitting his tee shot off the regulation greens and just off of the stands along the "Trophy Club".

"If someone is offended I apologise, but toughen up. It was just a moment of madness but nothing disrespectful", the Briton said. Lefty was 2-under after the hole, where on Saturday he purposely whacked his golf ball back toward the hole as it was rolling off the green for a two-shot penalty.

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Mickelson said he knew the ruling was in his favour when he struck the ball, which could have left him a near impossible pitch shot. Mickelson said he had thought about doing the same thing many times, including on the tricky 15th green at the Masters.

"Sometimes it gets a little goofy, sure, but it's all within the rules", he said. Sorry, I have to laugh at this.' He just laughed with me.

Commentating on the incident for Fox, former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said: "That's the most out of character I have ever seen Phil".

Added two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange: "I've never seen anything like that from a world class player in my life".

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