Phil Mickelson is “embarrassed and disappointed” by his actions after deliberately hitting a moving ball at last week’s US Open to prevent it rolling off the green.
The five-time major winner was four over par for the day on Saturday when he badly over-hit a putt on the 13th green and, seeing where it was headed, he ran around and struck it again, a breach of rule 14-5 which incurs a two-shot penalty.
A number of fellow professionals felt Mickelson should have been disqualified or withdrawn himself but he took his place in the field for the final round, eventually finishing joint 48th, 15 shots behind champion Brooks Koepka.
However, Mickelson has sent a message to a select group of the United States golf media offering his apologies.
“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.”
Former US PGA champion Steve Elkington was among those who called for Mickelson to be disqualified and accused him of “trying to embarrass the USGA”.
Asked why Rule 1-2, which covers a ball being “influenced or deflected” and can lead to disqualification for a “serious breach” was not invoked instead, John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance, said: “Phil didn’t purposely deflect or stop the ball, which is talked about in the reference under Rule 14-5. He played a moving ball.”
USGA chief executive Mike Davis later revealed Mickelson had telephoned him to clarify whether or not he should have been disqualified.
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