This year’s U.S. Open has been a wacky and wild race to the finish, providing golf fans the type of drama we come to expect from the beautiful tournament. Yet, while the attention should be on guys like Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka, it is quickly becoming known as the “Mickelson Meltdown.”
If you did not already know, Phil Mickelson’s quest for a career grand slam hit an early snag and he has been struggling throughout the whole tournament. During Saturday afternoon’s round at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, he finally threw in the towel.
After missing a short putt for bogey, Mickelson chased down the ball as it was rolling and swatted at it while in motion, which a big no-no. Instead of disqualifying Mickelson, like many fans cried out for, the USGA assessed a two-stroke penalty, which continued his round. Mickelson recorded a 10 on the hole.
While it is obviously not the most mature action, the amount of articles and twitter comments condemning Mickelson for his actions is quite staggering. Some of these fans are even calling for Mickelson to withdraw from the competition.
In fact, announcer Joe Buck’s horrific and bewildered live reaction made it sound more like Mickelson defecated on the course, rather than committing an inconsequential rule violation.
Granted, if Mickelson had made the moving shot (which he did not), it would have given him a competitive advantage. He did not though, which makes the “what if” mute. The 20th-ranked golfer in the world was already having a tough day, it wasn’t like his actions would have shook up the leader board too much.
A remarkable sequence on Hole 13, where Phil Mickelson was assessed a two-stroke penalty for hitting a moving ball and ended up making a 10 on the hole. pic.twitter.com/kx6ieYiOGR
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 16, 2018
Golf may be a purist sport, but honestly, what Mickelson did is not even close to the actions of guys like Tiger Woods or John Daly at their most frustrated.
Yes, Mickelson may be the poster boy for ethics and good sportsmanship, but even the sportsman loses his cool occasionally. When asked about the controversy, Mickelson said people need to “toughen up.” Some fans may take that as an insult, but the five-time major-winner is absolutely right.
Who among us hasn’t had a terrible day on the course and acted similarly, most likely much worse than Mickelson?
He may be a professional, but golf is a sport. Mickelson is an athlete and athletes sometimes get mad, it is called being a competitor.
It remains to be seen if the public pressure will make him decide to withdraw from the U.S. Open, but at this point, he should not, just to prove a point.
In the end, golf may be a “gentlemen’s game” but the visceral attack on one of the most championed and respected golfers of this decade is anything but gentlemanlike.