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Phil Mickelson Apologizes over 2018 U.S. Open Incident

Phil Mickelson Apologizes over 2018 U.S. Open Incident image courtesy CC BY-ND 2.0
Phil Mickelson Apologizes over 2018 U.S. Open Incident image courtesy CC BY-ND 2.0

Phil Mickelson has issued a belated apology over the 2018 U.S. Open incident he was involved in when he controversially putted a moving ball on the green at Shinnecock Hills.

On what was a frustrating third round of the U.S. Open for all players at Shinnecock Hills, Mickelson caused most controversy in an incident in which he broke Rule 14-5.

The incident came on the 13th green when Mickelson slid a downhill putt for bogey past the hole and it continued to roll further away from the cup. The five-time major winner then jogged across the green and putted the ball while it was still moving. He sent it back past the hole before marking it. Mickelson eventually signed for a 10 on the par-4 after incurring a two-shot penalty for the action.

Had rule Rule 1-2 been applied, that rule covering a ball being “influenced or deflected”, Mickelson could have been disqualified from the tournament altogether.

Penalty shot

The 48-year-old American said in the aftermath of the incident: “Look, I don’t mean disrespect to anybody. I know it’s a two-shot penalty. At that time, I just didn’t feel like going back and forth and hitting the shot over. I took the two-shot penalty and moved on. It’s my understanding of the rules. I’ve had multiple times when I’ve wanted to do that. I just finally did.

“It’s meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can. In that situation, I was just going back and forth. I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display. Sometimes it gets a little goofy, sure…but it’s all within the rules.”

Four days on from the controversy, Mickelson issued an apology for his actions which effectively brought golf into disrepute. While some of his fellow golf stars took to Twitter to give their forthright thoughts about the United States Golf Association’s (USGA) set-up of the 2018 U.S. Open’s course, Mickelson let his actions on the course do the talking.

Phil Mickelson: ’embarrassed’ and ‘disappointed’

In hindsight, Phil Mickelson—a five-time major winner and an idol to many young golfers—admitted he was embarassed and disappointed in himself in an apology sent to journalists by text message.

“It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry,” Mickelson said. “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions.”

Phil Mickelson, who is still searching for a U.S. Open victory—which would complete a career grand slam of the majors—eventually finished in 48th place at Shinnecock Hills on 16-over par after a one-under par final round. He was 15 shots adrift of winner Brooks Koepka, who became the first back-to-back winner of the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1988-89.

Phil Mickelson has finished runner-up in the U.S. Open on six separate occasions, having been second to the late Payne Stewart at Pinehurst in 1999, Tiger Woods at Bethpage Black in 2002, Retief Goosen at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, Geoff Ogilvy at Winged Foot in 2006, Lucas Glover at Bethpage Black in 2009 and Justin Rose at Merion in 2013.

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