Phil Mickelson loses the plot as Justin Rose stays in assertion

Dustin Johnson and three other US players share the lead at three-over after the US Open third round, with Justin Rose in contention one shot back

The US Open could trademark its recur and spectacular brand of chaos. Nobody does it better. On a day in which Dustin Johnson sampled this major’s evil side, Phil Mickelson triggered shockwaves throughout the golfing world.

Mickelson’s turbulent relationship with his professional nemesis took its latest and most extraordinary twisting as he deliberately rehit his own putt when rolling rapidly past the hole on the 13 th green at Shinnecock Hills. This was quite the 48 th birthday.

The offence, which led to calls for disqualification, was widely interpreted as a Mickelson protest at the United States Golf Association’s setup of such courses. The human himself denied such a hypothesi, even if Zach Johnson stepped presented to lacerated tournament organisers. As the leaders comprehended desperately for air, it appeared Johnson had a point. “They’ve lost the course,” said the two-times major champion. In what represented an ominous throwback to the 2004 US Open here, perfectly good approach shots failed to stick on greens and putts reacted as if on glass.

The Mickelson drama and Johnson broadside came on a day where Dustin Johnson’s earlier tight grip on the tournament he had headed by four was significantly loosened politenes of a front nine of 41. The world No 1 had steadied himself before three-putting the 18 th; his 77 means a 54 -hole, four-way tie-in for the result at three over par alongside his American compatriots Brooks Koepka, Tiny Finau and Daniel Berger. Justin Rose was three over for the day but the 2013 champion gained four shootings on the result, to be one behind the quartet.

The brutality was illustrated by only three members of the field violating par. Finau and Berger constructed morning 66 s; they rose through the field at great pace from the comfort of their hotel rooms. Rose’s 73 left him a shot ahead of Henrik Stenson. Wide open? You bet.

Mickelson, who requires victory at his national open to complete a career grand slam, had virtually no chance of such glory when taking to the hole he was to render infamous. He was four over par for the working day and plus 10 for the tournament.

Nobody could reasonably have predicted what happened next. Mickelson rattled his fourth shooting, a curling 18 ft putt, well past the cup. Before the ball could come to a standstill- it continued to meeting pace on a slope- Mickelson chased after it and struck it back towards the beaker. Had Mickelson not intervened, the ball would have rolled back down the green.

His score was deduced as a 10, including two-stroke penalty. Tournament officials instead insisted that regulation 14 -5, which relates to playing a moving ball as opposed to stopping or deflecting it, covered the issue solely. Others called fouled.” I would have lobbied for a disqualification ,” said David Fay, a former executive director of the USGA.

Phil
Phil Mickelson was comfortable with his actions on a bruising day. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/ AP

Mickelson was blissfully at ease with his own actions. The harsh truth is he had brought the second major of 2018 into disrepute. After signing for an 81, Mickelson openly admitted he broke the rule wilfully.” I don’t mean to disrespect anybody, I know it is a two-shot penalty. At that time, I simply didn’t feel like going back and forth, making the same shot over. I took the two shootings and moved on.

” It’s my understanding of the rules. I’ve had multiple times where I have wanted to do that, I simply eventually did it.

” I would gladly take the two shoots over continuing that display. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone and if that’s the way it was taken, I apologise to them. Sometimes in these situations it is just easier to take the two shoots and is moving forward .”

Mickelson disdain for the route the USGA configure courses has been easy to deduce for a number of years. On this occasion, Mickelson opted not to publicly lambast the pin placement on the 13 th.

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” Everybody has got to play it so I am not saying that either way ,” he added.” I was playing it worse than most and wanted to get to the next pit eventually, which I did .”

Andrew ” Beef ” Johnston, who was playing in Mickelson’s company, didn’t quite know what to make of it all.” I looked at him and was like:’ Is this actually happening ?'” said here Englishman.” I said to him:’ Sorry but I can’t help but laugh at that, it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen .’ I’ve never seen anything like it .”

Zach Johnson, who posted 72 in different groups immediately behind Mickelson, delivered his volley long before the principal protagonists were reduced to quivering wrecks.” When you have a championship that comes down to sheer luck, that’s not right ,” he said.” Shinnecock Hills is beautiful but unfortunately they’ve lost the golf course .”

Stenson swore on a live television interview when ventilating his frustration. Few could blame him. The US Open should carry a health warning.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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