Phil Mickelson putts golf ball while still rolling, given 2-stroke penalty at 2018 US Open
U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson putts golf ball while still rolling, given 2-stroke penalty at 2018 US Open

Credit: Keith Leventhal/Golf News Net, Cannot Be Used Without Permission

Phil Mickelson hit a ball while it was still moving, and it cost him a two-stroke penalty on Saturday at the 2018 US Open. He could still be disqualified for what he did.

Mickelson was on the par-4 13th hole when he hit his bogey putt from about 14 feet beyond the hole. He missed the putt badly, and the putt was continuing to roll toward the front of the green and almost certainly off it. Instead of letting the putt roll out to wherever it stopped and then playing his next shot from where the ball came to rest, Mickelson, who turned 48 on Saturday, scampered to the ball and hit it again with his putter while it was still moving. He nearly made that putt.

From there, Mickelson missed the comeback putt for 7 and carded a quadruple-bogey 8.

However, because Phil Mickelson broke Rule 14-5, Mickelson was given a two-stroke penalty, turning that 8 into a 10.

The USGA talked to Mickelson after the round to hear his explanation of the incident, seeking to determine if Mickelson has committed a "serious breach" of the Rules of Golf, for which he would be disqualified. They decided he did not seek competitive advantage and the two-stroke penalty is it.

The USGA determined is Mickelson had stopped his ball, then hit it, he would have been disqualified for a "serious breach" of Rule 1-2. But because Mickelson putted it toward the hole while it was still moving, he's in the clear.

Mickelson is yet to explain to the public why he hit the ball while it was moving. However, there are any of three reasons:

  1. Mickelson just had a momentary lapse of judgment and totally forgot what he was doing
  2. Mickelson figured he would score the same or better with the penalty than by letting the ball roll out and playing from there
  3. Mickelson was trying to send a message to the USGA about the setup or something else

This maims Phil Mickelson's US Open record, no doubt. The outcome on his scorecard and finish at the 2018 US Open is still to be determined.

“That is stunning,” said For Sports rules analyst David Fay, a former USGA executive director. “The last time I saw something like that was John Daly at the ’99 [U.S.] Open at Pinehurst. That’s basically his way of saying, ‘That’s it, no mas.’ ”

“That’s the most out-of-character I’ve ever seen Phil Mickelson,” said analyst Paul Azinger. “He’s putted bad enough that I think he just snapped at how bad his speed was on that putt. He just snapped.”

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