Phil Mickelson's private text to golf reporter after US Open meltdown should not have been shared
Phil Mickelson knows the rules of golf as well as anyone.
Lefty has been a tour pro for nearly 30 years. He has been confronted with countless rulings during his 49 professional wins but, for all that Mickelson has experienced, what occurred on the 13th hole on Saturday at the US Open has to go down as the most extraordinary sequence of his storied career.
Mickelson, who has been a runner-up at the US Open six times, descended into meltdown mode when he struck a putt while the ball was still moving.
Having raced his first putt well past the hole, Mickelson – who 'celebrated' his 48th birthday on Saturday – ran after it and struck his second one back up the hill before it had come to a standstill.
He needed eight strokes to complete the hole before accepting a two-shot penalty from the United States Golf Association (USGA) for "making a stroke at a moving ball."
Certain picky golfing folk will be freaking the bean at this https://t.co/Y3UlrNKP4S
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) June 16, 2018
There were calls for Mickelson to be disqualified but his punishment stopped at the two-stroke penalty.
Mickelson was strikingly remorseless about the incident.
“I don’t mean to disrespect anybody," the four-times major winner said. "I know it is a two-shot penalty. At that time, I just didn’t feel like going back and forth, hitting the same shot over. I took the two shots and moved on.
“It’s my understanding of the rules. I’ve had multiple times where I have wanted to do that, I just finally did it.
“I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone and if that’s the way it was taken, I apologise to them. Sometimes in these situations it is just easier to take the two shots and move on.”
Mickelson knows how the media operates. A quick forgive and forget was never going to happen but he perhaps would have been surprised that Alan Shipnuck, one of America's most respected golf reporters, shared a private text message exchange between the pair, on social media. The texts are shown below.
Phil Mickelson, unrepentant: pic.twitter.com/93ebhbSvKS
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) June 16, 2018
If the photo below is anything to go by, the bombardment of questions towards Mickelson will not cease soon. At this rate, he'll just be glad to leave Shinnecock Hills in one piece.
Mickelson will start the final round at +17 after having carded a damaging 81 on Saturday, extinguishing any lingering hopes of him completing his career grand slam at Shinnecock.
There is a four-way tie for the lead at +3 (yes, that's how difficult it's been), with Daniel Berger, Tony Finau, defending champion Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson all locked together. Justin Rose is one shot back with Henrik Stenson a further shot adrift.