US Open golf: Phil Mickelson meltdown video
GOLF champion Phil Mickelson is under siege after a baffling explanation to the moment he lost his damn mind in one of sport’s craziest meltdowns.
APJune 17, 201812:47pm
Phil’s birthday meltdown1:44
Golf: Putting for bogey on the 13th, Mickelson misses, and then chases the ball down, and hits it again before it runs down the slope. While the ball is still moving.
- June 17th 2018
- 2 months ago
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Phil Mickelson intentionally hit a moving putt on the 13th green Saturday, then asked the USGA to explain the ruling after hearing suggestions he should be disqualified from the U.S. Open.
His bogey putt from above the hole ran by the cup and was headed down a slope when he trotted over and swatted it back toward the hole with the ball still in motion. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty, scored a 10 on the hole — the highest number anyone has managed in this tournament — and wound up shooting 81. Later, after acknowledging he was using Rule 14-5 to his advantage, Mickelson called USGA officials.
“Phil really did want to understand how the rule operates because he didn’t want to — frankly, as he said to me: ‘I don’t want to play in this championship if I should have been disqualified,”’ said Mike Davis, the USGA’s chief executive.
“That’s where we clarified that, ‘Phil, you actually made a stroke at a moving ball, and so we have to apply that rule.’
“That’s different than if he had deliberately just stopped the ball or whacked it in another direction or something like that. So it’s just, it’s us applying the rules.”
Davis said Mickelson wanted information “because he said, ‘I’ve been hearing stuff in the media that maybe it’s a disqualification.’ I said, ‘Phil, that’s simply not the case.’
“I’m not going to speak for Phil, but it seemed he was very appreciative of that and said, ‘Listen, it would be helpful if the USGA clarified that just to make sure everybody understands how that rule operates.”’
Whether he ever wins a U.S. Open — and that prospect is increasingly bleak at age 48 — Mickelson will be remembered for what happened on the 13th green. Call it the Mickelson Meltdown.
“Sometimes it gets a little goofy, sure,” he said, “but it’s all within the rules.”
Mickelson’s shocking display in the third round stunned playing partner Andrew Johnston, who called it “a moment of madness.”
“I’ve had multiple times where I’ve wanted to do that,” Mickelson said, explaining he preferred the 2-stroke penalty to having to play the ball from off the green.
“I just finally did.
“If somebody is offended by that, I apologise to them, but toughen up.
“This is not meant that way. It’s just simply that I wanted to get on to the next hole and I didn’t see that happening at the time. I’ll gladly take my two strokes and move on.”
Saturday was Mickelson’s 48th birthday, and there were good vibes everywhere early in his round. He was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” at nearly every green, and even after four consecutive bogeys the fans were supportive.
“People here have been awesome, they made my birthday special,” he said.
Then came No. 13, where nothing was special — just outrageous. Mickelson jogged after the ball after it curled around the hole, realising it was about to head down the other side of the green. His swat sent the ball off the hole.
He then two-putted for 10, with the penalty.
“I’ve wanted to do that many times. I should have done it several times at Augusta on 15,” he said.
As he walked off the green, he could be seen smiling and talking to Johnston, who also was smiling.
“I said, ‘That is one of the strangest things I have ever seen’ and started laughing, and said ‘sorry’ about laughing,” said Johnston, a jovial Englishman with the nickname Beef.
“He just laughed at me, he had no words to say. We just laughed.
“It’s something you might see at your club with your mates. It was strange, no one ever has those thoughts, it just happens.”
Mickelson’s actions were reminiscent of John Daly hitting a moving ball at Pinehurst No. 2 in the 1999 U.S. Open. Daly was on No. 8 in the final round when he took an 11 on the hole and signed for an 81.
He then said: “This is my last U.S. Open — ever. I’ve had it with the USGA and the way they run their tournaments.” He was back the next year at Pebble Beach, where he pumped three shots into the Pacific Ocean on the famed 18th and hit another shot into someone’s backyard.
That made for a 14, a total of 83 in the first round, and a withdrawal. Another player who let things get to him was Kirk Triplett in 1998 at Olympic Club. On the 18th hole in the second round, Triplett stuck his putter in the ground as a backstop when his ball was headed back down from the hole. Mickelson, who has been a U.S. Open runner-up six times, most recently in 2013, was having a miserable time Saturday before reaching 13.
He had those four consecutive bogeys before a par at the 12th. After three more pars following the meltdown, he bogeyed 17, then parred 18.
Asked if people would find his actions on No. 13 disrespectful, Mickelson said:
“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.”
As for walking off the green chuckling, he insisted: “How can you not laugh? It’s funny.”
Not everybody thought it was funny — the golf world was divided.
Phil demeaned the game, revealing more of himself than he intended https://t.co/y9Hh0wCXac via @golf_com
— Jeff Parker (@jeffparkeractor) June 17, 2018
Phil Mickelson should withdraw in the morning. He could even spin it in a way that wins him favor, rightly or wrongly. He screwed up. He should know it.
— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) June 17, 2018
Judging by some of the reaction, Phil Mickelson must have done something truly heinous today that directly impacted those near the top of leader board and could change who wins the U.S. Open.
Clearly, it was bigger than the USGA apologizing for the course being unfair.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) June 17, 2018
Phil Mickelson’s misstep at the US Open was the most stunning thing I’ve seen on a golf course since the time Happy Gilmore ripped off a guy’s shirt, punched him so hard that he rolled down a hill and then handed the guy’s shirt to another patron at the 1996 Waterbury Open.
— Scott Bell (@ScottBellDMN) June 16, 2018
Phil Mickelson is off the rails. Putting like a four year old out there. pic.twitter.com/doUMMHORNJ
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) June 16, 2018
Wow. I’ve never seen that before.
Phil Mickelson ran after his putt before it stopped, which is a two stroke penalty.
Really, really odd #USOpen pic.twitter.com/Hu08036qjo
— Cam Rogers (@MrRogers99) June 16, 2018
If you feel personally offended or disrespected by Phil Mickelson hitting a moving ball in the US Open, you really need to rethink your priorities in life. Good lord.
— Scott Hennigan (@scooterhennigan) June 16, 2018