Mickelson offers apology

Golfer 'embarrassed' for hitting moving ball, peers feel he deserves harsher punishment

Phil Mickelson blames a lapse in judgment for his offence at last week's US Open.
Phil Mickelson blames a lapse in judgment for his offence at last week's US Open.

NEW YORK • Phil Mickelson apologised on Wednesday for putting a moving ball during the third round of last week's US Open, saying he is "embarrassed" for a lapse in judgment that sparked a storm of controversy.

The five-time Major champion was already out of contention for victory when he deliberately prevented his ball from rolling off the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, New York, by running after the ball and hitting it back towards the hole.

"I know this should've come sooner, but it's taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend," Mickelson, six times an Open runner-up, told Golf Channel in a note shared with a select group of media members.

"I'm embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I'm sorry," he said.

The 48-year-old did not speak to reporters after Sunday's final round, where he finished with a 16-over 296 for the tournament in a share of 48th place - 15 shots back of repeat champion Brooks Koepka.

World No. 19 Mickelson initially defended his actions, saying after Saturday's third round that he had deliberately incurred a two-shot penalty rather than risk running up a bigger score.

His latest comments, however, suggest his actions - which many critics felt bent the usual etiquette and spirit of the game - were more of an impulse rather than the calculated use of the rule book.

Many of Mickelson's peers were among those who felt his actions should have resulted in a disqualification from the US Open, the lone event he needs to win to complete the career Grand Slam.

Some felt that the United States Golf Association (USGA) was displaying deference to one of golf's most popular figures by making a very narrow interpretation of the rule (14-5) governing that situation, one that says, "A player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving."

Another rule (1-2) declaring that "a player must not take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play" could have been applied.

According to Golf.com, Amy Mickelson said her husband called USGA executive director Mike Davis on Saturday evening and offered to withdraw. But the USGA, which runs the US Open, determined that the two-stroke penalty - which led to a 10 on the par-four hole - was enough punishment.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2018, with the headline 'Mickelson offers apology'. Subscribe