Mickelson apologises for US Open ‘putt-gate’

Phil Mickelson has issued an apology for his controversial decision to hit a moving ball during last week’s US Open.

Mickelson was four over par in the middle of his third round on Saturday at Shinnecock Hills when he over-hit a putt on the 13th green. When he saw the ball was about to roll off the green, he chased after it and hit it again to incur a two-shot penalty.

Several former players criticised Mickelson, with Steve Elkington among those saying the five-time major winner should have been disqualified.

Mickelson issued an apology via text message to reporters on Wednesday, saying: “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down.

“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.”

After his round, the 48-year old said that he decided a two-stroke penalty would be better than allowing the ball to roll off the green.

He was handed a two-shot penalty from the USGA for “making a stroke at a moving ball”, instead of the more severe offence of “an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play”, an offence which could have seen him disqualified.

Asked at the time about why Mickelson wasn’t disqualified, John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance, said: “Phil didn’t purposely deflect or stop the ball….. He played a moving ball.”