SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Steve DiMeglio breaks down Phil Mickelson’s curious decision on No. 13 and how the greens at Shinnecock Hills makes the final round impossible to predict.
USA TODAY Sports
Phil Mickelson had a meltdown Saturday in the third round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
On Wednesday, he apologized for the incident on the 13th hole where he hit a moving ball and caused umbrage among many in the golf world when he said he was just taking advantage of the rules.
“I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down,” Mickelson said in a statement. “My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”
On the 13th, Mickelson’s 18-footer for bogey raced by the hole. Mickelson, who has finished runner-up a record six times in the U.S. Open, then ran after the ball and hit it again while the ball was still moving instead of letting it roll out off the green.
Mickelson took two more strokes before holing out and was assessed a 2-stroke penalty for hitting a moving ball. His 10 on No. 13 was the lowlight in a round of 81.
After the round, Mickelson said he knew what he was doing and was just taking advantage of the rules.
“Look, I don’t mean disrespect to anybody,” said Mickelson, a five-time major champion who is a U.S. Open title shy of becoming the sixth player to won the career Grand Slam. “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.”
That explanation didn’t sit well with everyone, including it seems, Mickelson. Hours later, he called USGA executive director Mike Davis and told him he didn’t want to play in the U.S. Open final round if he should have been disqualified. Davis told Mickelson he did not warrant a disqualification.
After Mickelson shot a 69 on Sunday and tied for 48th at 16-over par, he only answered two questions in passing. But the matter stayed with Mickelson until he released his statement on Wednesday.