Phil Mickelson intentionally hit a moving putt on the 13th green Saturday, then asked the USGA to explain the ruling after hearing suggestions that he should be disqualified from the US Open. His bogey putt from above the hole ran by the cup and was headed down a slope when he trotted over and swatted it back toward the hole with the ball still in motion. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty, scored a 10 on the hole—the highest number anyone has managed in this tournament—and wound up shooting 81, reports the AP. Later, after acknowledging he was using Rule 14-5 to his advantage, Mickelson called USGA officials. "Phil really did want to understand how the rule operates because he didn't want to—frankly, as he said to me: 'I don't want to play in this championship if I should have been disqualified,'" said Mike Davis, the USGA's chief executive.
"That's where we clarified that, 'Phil, you actually made a stroke at a moving ball, and so we have to apply that rule.' "That's different than if he had deliberately just stopped the ball or whacked it in another direction or something like that. So it's ... us applying the rules." Mickelson's shocking display in the third round stunned playing partner Andrew Johnston, who called it "a moment of madness." "I've had multiple times where I've wanted to do that," Mickelson said, explaining he preferred the 2-stroke penalty to having to play the ball from off the green. "I just finally did." As he walked off the green, he could be seen smiling. Asked if people would find his actions on No. 13 disrespectful, Mickelson said: "It's meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can. ... I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display." As for walking off the green chuckling, he insisted: "How can you not laugh? It's funny."