USGA's official statement on ruling of Phil Mickelson during third round of U.S. Open

There appears to be some continued uncertainty about the basis of the ruling with Phil Mickelson during the third round of the 118th U.S. Open, and we would like to further clarify previous statements. During play of the 13th hole Mickelson made a stroke on the putting green at his ball which was moving. As a result, he incurred a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 14-5; the stroke made at the moving ball also counted. His score for the hole was 10. Rule 14-5 does not include a serious breach clause or disqualification as part of the penalty statement.

Photo copyright: USGA/Darren Carroll

Rule 1-2 did not apply in this situation because Mickelson made a stroke at the ball (defined as the forward movement of the club with the intention of striking at and moving the ball) as opposed to another act to deflect or stop the ball in motion, which are two acts covered by Rule 1-2. Additionally, Exception 1 under Rule 1-2 states that “an action expressly permitted or expressly prohibited by another Rule is subject to that other Rule and not Rule 1-2.” As the act of making a stroke at a moving ball is expressly covered by Rule 14-5, that Rule and the penalty associated with that Rule were applied. The Committee looked at the facts of the situation and determined that there were no grounds under the Rules of Golf for any further penalty, including disqualification.