Frustrated Phil Mickelson swats moving ball with putter at US Open

The US Golf Association was in damage control mode on Saturday, admitting they botched the US Open course set-up but defending a decision not to disqualify five-time major victor Phil Mickelson.

During the third round of the US Open, the five-time major champion had one of his worst career rounds. It's a two-shot penalty on top of the score, so it ends up being a nine, and as of now it's on the scorecard as a such. I know it's a two-shot penalty hitting a moving ball.

"I would probably do it myself, but I'm not a professional, and not in the U.S. Open", said Christine Lloyd. That, at least, might have been excusable, even for a player in his 27th Open who clearly knows better. A round that began with fans singing "Happy Birthday" to Mickelson as he walked down the first fairway went off the rails in a very odd way.

He ran after the ball, hitting it back before it rolled further down the hill.

England's Justin Rose emerged from a chaotic and controversial third round at the US Open one shot adrift of a four-way tie for the lead.

But Saturday at Shinnecock will always be remembered for Mickelson's antics.

He was assessed a two-stroke penalty and ended up scoring a 10 on the par 4. The ball then started rolling back toward the cup, but missed.

The weird incident inevitably caused huge controversy, with at least one fellow professional accusing the USGA of "copping out" by not disqualifying Mickelson.

"A player must not (i) take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in playor (ii) alter physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of a hole". Serious breaches of this rule could result in disqualification.

"Phil didn't purposefully deflect or stop the ball", USGA official John Bodenhamer explained, adding that the determination was unanimous. He played a moving ball. "It just happens", Johnston said.

"I just didn't feel like going back and forth and hitting the same shot over, " he said. I can't see anything and I went, 'Where is it?' And he went, 'It's just in that bunker up there.' I go, 'Ah, you gotta be kidding me!' He's like, "Aaaah!"

He was immediately issued with a two shot penalty for his actions and he's surely longing for the clubhouse now. "I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display", Mickelson said.

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