"If somebody's offended by that I apologize", Mickelson said after running after his golf ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills and hitting it while it was still moving.
On his 48 birthday, Mickelson was already 4 over par for the day when he found trouble on the 366-yard 13, which has played as one of the most hard holes at Shinnecock this week. Instead of waiting for the inevitable, Lefty ran over to the ball while it was still moving. and hit it back at the hole. Mickelson, who shot 81 Saturday, closed with 69 Sunday.
"I know the rules", Mickelson said. It's certainly not meant that way.
"I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display", he said.
The freakish incident inevitably caused huge controversy, with at least one fellow professional accusing the USGA of "copping out" by not disqualifying Mickelson.
Amy Mickelson says husband Phil is not ideal and just had a "bad moment". That, at least, might have been excusable, even for a player in his 27th Open who clearly knows better. "We are operating under what we saw".
"I'm fully willing to withdraw", Mickelson told the USGA, according to Amy. It's meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can.
"That's different than if he had deliberately just stopped the ball or whacked it in another direction or something like that. So it's just, it's us applying the rules".
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It was a childish display from a five-time major victor celebrating his 48th birthday. But he praised the setup earlier this week and said again Saturday that it was tough and "everyone has to play it".
"He's a good man who had a bad moment", Amy Mickelson said. "If they want to give me a Tour card, I'll go play, but I'm not going to go back and play mini-tours". "And that's all I can really say about it".
Mickelson could say more, plenty more.
"I've never seen anything like it. I've never seen that in tournament, only when playing with my mates". But it was just a moment - I think it's a moment of madness.
"I would probably do it myself, but I'm not a professional, and not in the U.S. Open", said Christine Lloyd. Joe Buck announced after Mickelson had made par at the next hole that his score on the 13th had been changed to a sextuple-bogey 10.
"I know the rules and the ball was going to go off in a bad spot".
"I didn't feel like going back and forth", he said.
"John Daly's reputation took a hit after what he did at Pinehurst in '99 and I fear it will be the same for Phil", said former U.S. Golf Association executive director David Fay.