Phil Mickelson: Hitting moving ball at US Open was ‘dumb’

‘I made a big mistake (at the US Open) and I wish I could take it back, but I can’t’

Phil Mickelson takes his third shot on hole one during day one of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Course. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson takes his third shot on hole one during day one of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Course. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

 

Phil Mickelson conceded he does a lot of “dumb stuff” after speaking at length for the first time about his controversial penalty during the US Open.

The five-time major winner was four over par for his third round at Shinnecock Hills when he badly overhit a putt on the 13th and, seeing that it would roll off the green, prevented that from occurring by running after his ball and hitting it while it was still moving.

A number of fellow professionals felt Mickelson should have been disqualified for a serious breach of etiquette, but the left-hander was given a two-shot penalty for breaking rule 14-5 and eventually finished joint 48th.

Mickelson told critics of his actions to “toughen up” after claiming he was simply using the rules to his advantage, but a few days later sent a message to a handful of American journalists offering his apologies.

The 48-year-old was also penalised for tapping down some long grass in front of a tee during last week’s Greenbrier Classic and, speaking after an opening round of 70 in the ASI Scottish Open, said: “I’ve had a rough month. I haven’t been my best. So I’m working at trying to fix that.

“I made a big mistake (at the US Open) and I wish I could take it back, but I can’t. There’s not much I can do about it now other than just try to act a little better.

“The thing about this is throughout my career, 25 years, there have been a lot of times where I have had to be accountable for decisions I did not make. And the reason why this has actually been easier is it was my own fault.

“The backlash is my own fault. So it’s much easier to deal with than some of the times where I have not been involved in the decisions and had to deal with that.

“You have to be accountable for yourself. I do a lot of dumb stuff, right.

“I have these moments where I’m like in a cloud, if you will, I’m not really sure what I’m doing or I’m just kind of going through the motions and not really aware at the moment, and I’ve done that a bunch in my career.“

Asked if his actions at the US Open were intended as a protest against the way the USGA had set up the course, Mickelson added: “There was just a bunch of stuff. But I had to let that go. It took me a few days to kind of let it go.

“Not only was I not great on the course, I was not great after the round, either. So it was just not a great day, and it was my birthday. So I tend to do dumb stuff on my birthday, too.

“At the time I was pretty angry. The way I show anger is not the traditionally accepted way of, you know, throwing clubs and berating the fans and marshals. I tend to be a little more passive aggressive in my actions, and that was kind of what I was doing.”

Mickelson also revealed that his potential $10 million shootout with Tiger Woods is “close to having some stuff finalised”, but that he and Woods would not be putting up the money themselves.

“I would hope for a sponsor,” he said with a smile.

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