Three weeks after garnering a two-stroke penalty for putting a moving ball at the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson was penalized two shots on Sunday at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier for improving his line of play.
At the tee of the par-4 seventh, Mickelson teed up his ball, walked to the front of the tee box and stepped twice on a tuft of tall grass, which he told a rules official afterward was potentially in his line as he planned a low-angle shot.
Mickelson returned to his ball and, while preparing to hit his tee shot, said, “I’m not sure what I just did was legal.” He said he would ask a rules official about it, and then lined up and hit his shot, a 281-yard iron in the fairway.
While walking down the fairway, he called over an official and discussed what happened. The official left to consult with others before returning and confirming a two-stroke penalty.
Mickelson double-bogeyed the hole to move to 4 over for his round. He put together four birdies and a bogey over the next nine holes before a triple bogey at No. 18 gave him a 4-over round of 74, putting him at 1 under for the tournament.
During the third round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, Mickelson chased after a putt that was likely going to roll off the 13th green and putted the moving ball back toward the hole. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty, per PGA Tour rules, and took a 10 on the par-4 hole. Some people were so angered by the violation of the rules — and golf etiquette — that they called for his withdrawal from the tournament.
Mickelson stayed in the tournament and issued a tepid apology that evening.
“I don’t mean it disrespectful; if you’re taking it that way, that’s not on me,’’ Mickelson said immediately after the round. “I’m sorry that you’re taking it that way, it’s certainly not meant that way. Sometimes in these situations, it’s just easier to take the two shots and move on.’’
Four days later, Mickelson issued a more expansive apology in a text message to Golf.com.
“I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down,” Mickelson said. “My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”
—Field Level Media