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Mickelson should have been DQ’d

If you watched as Phil Mickelson swatted – oops, made a stroke at – his ball as it trundled away from the hole Saturday on No. 13 in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, it was clear that the ball would have rolled off the green. He would have faced an awkward and difficult chip shot, so he chose to knock the ball back toward the hole.

In his post-round interview, Mickelson put more spin on his explanation than he gets on a lob wedge. Unfortunately, for those of us who actually care about fair application of the Rules of Golf, Mickelson admitted that he knew he would have “no shot” from off the green, so he decided to accept a two-stroke penalty for striking a moving ball Rule 14-5 (“Playing Moving Ball”).

Nice try, Phil, but you expressed that your intent was to prevent having “no shot” from off the green. In this situation, I, and others, would view your actions as intentionally deflecting the moving ball in order to gain an advantage. Actually, you admitted as much. This admission makes you liable for disqualification under Rule 1-2 (“Exerting Influence on Movement of Ball or Altering Physical Conditions”).

The USGA rules committee apparently had a feverish meeting to find a way to keep Mickelson on the course for today’s final round. Ignoring his bogus explanation and guilty plea that included his intent, the bluecoats invoked Rule 14-5. Well, yes, it looked like a stroke as he hustled to reach the ball and hit it again, but he was not attempting to make a putt; rather, he was trying to stop the ball from rolling off the green.

The USGA could have handled this situation in a more honest and forthright manner. Officials added Rule 33-7 (“Disqualification Penalty; Committee Discretion”) so that the committee could, in strange and unusual circumstances, reduce a disqualification penalty to a two-stroke penalty. Officials could have developed an explanation for reducing the DQ (Mickelson thought the ball had stopped; the green was really, really fast in that area; he became John Daly). It might have been a stretch, but at least they would have acted within the rule book.

The USGA decision to use Rule 14-5 and charge Mickelson only with making a stroke at a moving ball is dubious and disingenuous. Beyond that, it is my opinion that this decision clouds the integrity of the game itself. They know that most of their audience will fall for their shenanigans because they just are not aware of the rules. Besides, it's Phil!  

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

(Kavanagh is a senior rules official with the Florida State Golf Association.)


USGA errs in defense of Mickelson

The USGA’s defense of Phil Mickelson’s actions were misguided but not surprising.

The intentional and disrespectful actions of Mickelson are potential cause for disqualification. What example does this represent, and what message does this send to golf fans and players worldwide? Rules are intended to provide clarification, ensure player accountability and protect the integrity of the game. Mickelson’s disrespect was clear, yet he is not being held accountable, and the integrity of the game is impugned.

Kudos to David Fay, the USGA’s retired executive director, for raising the specter of disqualification.

Michael Kukelko
Oak Bluff, Manitoba


Everything but a windmill

My wife was watching the U.S. Open for a while Saturday and finally gave up, stating that it was too brutal to watch.

Golf should be a game of skill. This is more like how lady luck treats you.

I think the USGA forgot to put out the trick windmills, draw bridges, bumpers, etc. It reminds me of miniature golf.

The USGA has carried this U.S. Open too far again.

Couple this with Fox’s telecast….

Bill Martin
Quitman, Texas


Sounding off against Fox

Fox’s broadcast of the U.S. Open has to be one of the worst sports broadcasts by a major network ever.

First, the network continues to give air time to the idiots who have to yell after every swing. Surely you can find a way to eliminate their incessant inanity. Their shouts are only slightly more annoying than the constant chatter of the hosts with nothing to add. No insight, no intelligence, just chatter.

I love the tournament, but I will be watching without sound Sunday.

John Elliott
Timmins, Ontario


Where’s Chirkinian when we need him?

Fox's coverage of the U.S. Open is no worse than the other networks’ broadcasts.

They all have good and poor analysts and commentators. Some have better graphics, etc. One thing that they all have in common is too much talk by the commentators and analysts. They constantly tell us things that we already can see for ourselves.

They also have these sidebars about someone or something, when all we really want is to see golf shots. They also need to go to the putts only slightly before they are struck. We don't need to see the players walk all around the putt and squat down several times to get the line on the ball exactly where they want it. 

Oh, well, nothing is going to change until another Frank Chirkinian comes along.

Michael Merrill
McKinney, Texas


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