CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - British Open organizers the R&A have hinted a similar incident to the Phil Mickelson controversy from last month’s U.S. Open could lead to disqualification in golf’s oldest major at Carnoustie this week.
The 48-year-old American was out of title contention when he deliberately prevented his ball from rolling off the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills by running after it and hitting it back toward the hole.
The five-times major winner initially defended his actions, saying he intentionally incurred a two-shot penalty rather than run the risk of a bigger score, before later issuing an embarrassed apology.
“I have talked to Phil since he’s been here this week,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers told reporters on Wednesday.
“Not putting words into his mouth, paraphrasing his words, but he essentially admits it wasn’t his finest hour and I agree.”
Mickelson could have been disqualified had officials deemed it a serious breach of Rule 1-2 that states “a player must not take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play”.
However, U.S. Golf Association rules chief John Bodenhamer said his violation did not reach such a level.
“We understand the decisions made at Shinnecock and completely respect those decisions. We have looked very carefully at the rules and I don’t think it was good for the game and not the right way to have played this wonderful sport,” Slumbers said.
“Rule 1-2 says you cannot use 1-2 if you’ve used another rule so they used 14-5 which doesn’t have a DQ (disqualification) option.
“But there are other parts of the rule book which refer to etiquette and the powers of the committee and we are fully aware of those clauses,” added Slumbers.
“Let’s also remember it is a moot point for next year because, as of 1st January 2019, there will be a DQ option in that equivalent rule.”
Editing by Ed Osmond