Phil Mickelson risked U.S. Open disqualification with brazen act – but it turned out to be genius

By | June 15, 2024

Phil Mickelson risked U.S. Open disqualification with brazen act – but it turned out to be genius

Phil Mickelson stunned his rivals and fans alike when he made the controversial decision to play a moving ball at the 2018 US Open, and his reaction only stoked the fire

Phil Mickelson caused controversy at the 2018 US Open

Glory has eluded Phil Mickelson at the US Open throughout his stellar career. Instead, he has become synonymous at his national open with near misses and one particularly bizarre incident.

Mickelson is a six-time runner-up at the US Open, and his chances of completing the career grand slam are fading, with the 53-year-old going three years without a tournament victory. Unfortunately for Lefty, the overriding memories of him at the US Open are his heartbreaks and his controversial decision at Shinnecock Hills in 2018.

Mickelson was well out of contention on the back nine of his third round when he arrived at the par-four 13th at 10-over for the week. He left himself a slippery 18ft putt for bogey after another scruffily-played hole, and he misjudged the pace as the ball went sailing past the cup and headed towards a run-off area.

But, remarkably, the six-time major champion raced after his ball and hit it again before it stopped moving, tapping it back past the hole to stay on the putting surface. Mickelson had not cheated, but he had bent the rules in his favour.

Had Mickelson’s ball ran off the green, he would have been left with a perilous chip. He took the calculated decision to accept a two-shot penalty for hitting a moving ball to avoid the challenge of chipping back onto a lightning-fast green.

Ultimately, the decision did not do Mickelson many favours. He walked off with a 10 and finished the day with a card of 81. And he was met with widespread criticism for his actions, with claims he should have been disqualified.

“It was going to go down into the same spot, behind the bunker,” he said. “I wasn’t going to have a shot. I don’t know if I would have been able to save a shot or what not, but I know it’s a two-shot penalty, hitting a moving ball. I tried to hit it as close to the hole as I could to make the next one and you take the two shots and you move on.

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