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Mickelson Creates Major US Open Controversy

Phil Mickelson is at the centre of a major controversy after hitting a moving ball in Saturday's third round of the US Open (Photo: UGSA/Jeff Haynes)
Phil Mickelson isn’t going to contend in the 118th US Open but that won’t stop him being the most talked about player from day three.

The five-time major winner sparked a storm of controversy at Shinnecock Hills when he deliberately hit a moving ball on the 13th green then told host broadcaster FOX Sports he did so deliberately to ‘take advantage of the rules.”

Mickelson was assessed a two-stroke penalty for his actions (under rule 14-4) prior to completing his round but the controversy began in earnest when he spoke to Curtis Strange after signing his card.

"I was just going back and forth and I'd gladly take the two shots over continuing that display,” he said. 

"No question it was going to go down into the same spot behind the bunker. You take the two shots and you move on."

Strange pressed Mickelson on whether his actions disrespected the game and the Californian responded he didn’t feel they did.

"It was meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can,” he said.

“I don't mean it in any disrespect and if that's the way people take it, I apologise."

He later told reporters anyone who felt aggrieved by his actions should ‘toughen up’.

Those comments had several people claiming Mickelson should be disqualified under rule 1-2 which states the Committee has that option should they consider the action a ‘serious breach’.

Rule 1-2 states: “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.”

However there is a note attached ot the rule which says: “A player is deemed to have committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2 if the Committee considers that the action taken in breach of this Rule has allowed him or another player to gain a significant advantage or has placed another player, other than his partner, at a significant disadvantage.”

Many feel Mickelson’s admission after the round that he was trying to ‘take advantage of the rules’ made the act more serious, including former USGA Executive Director turned FOX analyst David Fay.

Fay was initially supportive of the two shot penalty decision but later in the commentary, after Mickelson’s interview had been aired, he changed his opinion.

“I probably would have lost,” he said after Mickelson spoke with Curtis Strange ‘but I would have lobbied for disqualification.”

Mickelson’s actions caused a storm on social media with fellow players, fans and analysts weighing in on the ruling.





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