Mickelson defends deliberately hitting moving ball

Phil Mickelson's 48th birthday took a freaky twist on Saturday as he was penalised for deliberately hitting a moving ball in the third round of the US Open.

Afterwards, Mickelson - who is now on +17 after three rounds at Shinnecock Hills - says he has long wanted to give up on a hole by hitting a moving ball.

Mickelson became embroiled in controversy on the 13th hole during the third round when he struck his ball while it was still moving on the green, and he was penalised two shots under Rule 14-5 which prohibits "making a stroke at a moving ball". "Lefty" finished his third round 11-over par 70 to finish the day 17-over and will once again miss out on winning a U.S. Open. "I just wanted to get on to the next hole and I didn't see that happening at that time", Mickelson said.

Mickelson is celebrating his 48th birthday, and it's one he is sure to remember.

He could have been disqualified, however, had rules officials deemed it a serious breach of another rule that states "a player must not take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play". "I took the two-shot penalty, moved on, and there's not much more to say".

Mickelson, who has six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, has a painful history at Shinnecock, where he tied for fourth in 1995 and was second in 2004 during a particularly controversial week due to course setup. It'll be the surreal image of Mickelson jogging to get behind a ball rolling down a hill, having made the decision to wilfully break one of the simplest Rules of Golf: you can not hit a moving ball.

Mickelson is one of the professional tour's most loved golfers, the US Golf Association (USGA) will now weigh up if his actions warrant disqualification from the tournament.

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CURTIS STRANGE: Does it show disrespect to the Championship?

I was very curious how the golf media, and sports media at large, would react to this situation.

"I said 'That's one of the strangest things I've ever seen". And Phil Mickelson is well aware.

This is one of the more surprising things you'll see. "I feel like you've got to take it from me, to be honest".

"We were both obviously really struggling", Johnston said.

"If somebody is offended by that, I apologize to them but toughen up".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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