The Breaching of Rule 14-5
Yesterday the golf world witnessed one of the most bizarre moments in the history of televised golf. It was perhaps one of the most bizarre moments in the history of all televised sports, for that matter. It was a serious violation of a rule that even beginning golfers can easily grasp. According to the USGA Rules and Decisions the rule in question applies to the striking of a ball and reads as follows (you probably know where this is going, right?):
14-5. Playing Moving BallA player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving.
Seems reasonable enough. But there are some valid exceptions according to the USGA:
Exceptions:• Ball falling off tee – Rule 11-3• Striking the ball more than once – Rule 14-4• Ball moving in water – Rule 14-6
None of those applied. So what happened? Well, if it was my three-year-old nephew playing mini-golf who violated the rule by mischievously running after the moving ball to strike at it, it would be cute and equally memorable. But the entire golfing world wouldn't be talking about it. Nope, instead, it happened on Day 3 of the U.S. Open. And the culprit of the rule violation was none other than Phil Mickelson. The same Phil Mickelson who is considered one of the games most respectable and non-controversial figures.
Phil Mickelson is melting down.
What happened yesterday in the U.S. Open was beyond bizarre. Words can't describe it. Just ask the Fox sports commentators who covered the event live. (If you don't have time to watch the video linked below, then stop what you're doing and find the time to watch it. You owe yourself a laugh). For now, take a look at these stills that are captioned with the actual live responses of the Fox commentators. This is Mickelson, chasing down a moving ball to hit it again, after already putting it for bogey:
In short, yesterday was one of the wildest days in golf because one of its least controversial figures did something almost unimaginable. To top this, it would take something of the sort of Tom Brady racing off the sidelines to assist the Patriots' defense and getting his first career tackle. Not likely to happen.
But in all honesty, this has actually happened before, in the 1999 U.S. Open. That time it was golf bad boy John Daly who struck a moving ball on the green. The fact that something equally bizarre happened again at the U.S. Open is strange enough.
Phil Mickelson's Birthday Wish Came True
When thinking of Mickelson, you think of an individual who could be described as cool as a cucumber, one who you'd imagine has few, if any, infractions of the law — I wonder if he's even ever gotten a speeding ticket before. Mickelson, who was playing alongside Andrew "Beef" Johnston, gave the following explanation of his actions: "I didn't feel like continuing my display," Mickelson said. "I'd gladly take my two-shot penalty and move on. I don't mean it disrespectful. If you're taking it that way, that's not on me. 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."
Okay. I can accept that. Though when your playing partner's nickname is "Beef", why not push the boundaries of the bizarre. But what do I know?
Mickelson has won five PGA majors. The U.S. Open is the only one he hasn't won, thus preventing him from completing the career grand slam. He's finished the event a record six times in second place. Yesterday, at the time of the incident, he was already 10 over par for the tournament. It was also his birthday.
According to the NY Post, "Mickelson insisted it wasn't because of frustration, but it was something he had been thinking about doing for a long time." Today, Mickelson won't be finishing first or second in the U.S. Open. But it does appear that, perhaps, he did get his birthday wish.