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An unbelievable rules blunder from Mickelson, committee at the Presidents Cup



The good news: Despite a blunder and an almost inconceivable lapse on the part of the rules committee at the Presidents Cup, Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson managed to halve their match with Jason Day and Adam Scott.

The bad news: Well, pretty much everything that happened on the seventh hole for the U.S. side.

All square with Jason Day and Adam Scott in their fourball match, Phil Mickelson decided to put a firmer golf ball in play on the par-five seventh hole, apparently believing it would give him a better chance of reaching the green in two.

Mickelson, reportedly, thought he was in the clear as there is no one-ball rule in Ryder Cup competition when the event is held in the U.S. Thus, Lefty seems to have assumed similar standards applied to Presidents Cup competitions outside of the U.S.

Unfortunately, he was wong.

In Presidents Cup play, the one-ball rule is in effect. Thus, a player cannot switch the type of ball he is playing during a round.

Here’s some clarification on the rule from the USGA’s Decisions in the Rules of Golf.

Rule 15-1: Changing golf balls during a hole or a stipulated round: “…When changing balls, the player is permitted to substitute a ball of another brand or type unless the Committee has adopted the One Ball Condition of Competition (see Appendix I; Part C; Section 1c). This optional condition (usually referred to as ‘The One Ball Rule’) is generally adopted only in events that are limited to professional golfers or highly-skilled amateur golfers. Generally, this condition of competition is not adopted in club-level competitions.”

“I tried to put a firmer ball in play,” Mickelson said of the decision. “As we were walking down after I did it, I was sure there was no one ball rule, I was there with captain Haas and said ‘Will you just check?’ We’ve never really had it and I didn’t think much about it. But it’s my responsibility to know that.

What they found out, additionally, was that the penalty for such an offence is a “one hole adjustment” i.e. Mickelson and Johnson immediately went from all-square to one-down

Unfortunately, again, it was at this point a secondary blunder occurred.

A rules official incorrectly told Mickelson he was disqualified from the hole, so Phil picked up, leaving Johnson against Day/Scott for the hole. Day won the hole and secured another point, which put Mickelson/Johnson two-down.

The Match Committee got it wrong. As USA Today’s Steve Dimeglio explained, “In fact, Mickelson could have actually played out the hole – either with the wrong ball or after putting the correct ball back into play – and tied Day with a birdie of his own, which then would have meant the Americans would have lost the hole just once because of his breech of the rules.”

And under Decision 34-2/6 of the Rules of Golf, there’s no way to rectify the error. According to a Committee statement, “Once any player in the match plays a subsequent stroke allowing a correction could potentially undermine the strategy already employed by both sides in the match in completing the hole.”

“We’ve never had a one-ball rule that I can think of in these events, or at least that I was aware of. But it’s never been an issue, either. Obviously as a player, you need to know that. You need to know the rules and if you have a question, you do it beforehand.”

It doesn’t appear the blunder will haunt Mickelson, as he offered up a classic FIGJAM quote post-match: “I feel like we spotted the Internationals’ best team two holes and they still couldn’t beat us. Just saying.”


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  1. Shack222

    Oct 11, 2015 at 2:50 am

    By taking 2 different balls out on the course he shows that he had already decided to use this tactic in practise, and he only thought to question wether it was allowed AFTER he’d actually done it???? Stupid man

  2. BT

    Oct 10, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    It makes no sense to me that you can play out the hole with an illegal ball. So on a par 5 you switch balls to a Pinnacle because you think you won’t get on in 2 with your regular ball. You sink the eagle putt for the win but you lose a hole under one ball rule, effectively halving the hole when you expected to lose. I think you should be dq’ed for the hole/s plus one hole penalty. Without the dq the gain might be worth incurring the penalty.

    Note: matchplay was invented before computers. A penalty is not to lose ‘the’ hole but to lose ‘a’ hole. Two 19th century Scotsmen kept track in their heads (2 up, 3 down etc) not filling + or – on a computer leaderboard where there was no space for penalty loss of holes. So for Phil to say they lost the 7th twice is to not understand matchplay.
    (And btw Ben, the GolfWRX audience is worldwide so the half in the match isn’t universally good news for your readers.)

  3. Gives

    Oct 10, 2015 at 3:56 am

    Phil also blundered by making this blunder and exposing the pathetic nature of the American rules in Ryder Cup. Now everybody knows that the Ryder Cup in the US is considered a “club” competition and not a professional one, played with amateur rules.

  4. Steve

    Oct 9, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks Phil we all now know for a fact at least two of Callaways balls perform different enough that a pro would change to get more distance…Wonder how much of this ball switching goes on during regular PGA events as there is no ONE BALL RULE in PGA tour events???

    • 1badbadger

      Oct 10, 2015 at 3:24 am

      PGA Tour events ARE played under the one ball condition…they are not allowed to switch to a different model during a round.

  5. Brian

    Oct 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm


  6. Tom

    Oct 9, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    This was a regular comedy act unfolding before our eyes.

  7. Mb

    Oct 9, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    still can’t get over that Phil quote haha, just classic. FIGJAM for life

  8. ooffa

    Oct 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Maybe he had bet against himself?

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Schedule postponements and cancellations on the PGA Tour, European Tour plus the four majors: What we know so far



With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the PGA Tour and European Tour have taken steps to cancel or postpone several events. Action has also been taken on some of golf’s major championships, and here we’ll summarize what decisions have been made so far altering the 2020 calendar.

The Majors

Both The Masters (April 9-12) and PGA Championship (May 14-17) have been officially postponed with hopes of rescheduling both events for later in the year. According to the NY Post, the US Open is also set to be postponed and rescheduled for “later in the summer”, though as of Tuesday, March 31 the USGA has made no formal announcement confirming this news.

The R&A has of yet made no announcement on this year’s Open Championship which is due to take place from 16-19 of July.

  • April 9-12: The Masters – Postponed
  • May 14-17: PGA Championship – Postponed
  • June 18-21: US Open – NY Post reporting postponed; not yet confirmed by USGA
  • July 16-19: Open Championship – On Schedule

PGA Tour

Since cancelling the Players Championship mid-event, the PGA Tour decided to cancel several subsequent tournaments. As of now, the earliest return date for the PGA Tour is May 21 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

The Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship which is played the same week as the WGC-Match Play was postponed with plans to reschedule the event.

  • March 12-15: The Players Championship – Cancelled
  • March 19-22: Valspar Championship – Cancelled
  • April 16-19: RBC Heritage – Cancelled
  • April 23-26: Zurich Classic of New Orleans – Cancelled
  • April 30-May 3: Wells Fargo Championship – Cancelled
  • May 7-10: AT&T Byron Nelson – Cancelled

European Tour

Along with the cancelled WGC-Match Play and confirmed postponed major championships, the European Tour has postponed a further seven events. Unlike the PGA Tour, the European Tour has chosen to postpone almost every upcoming event for the time being instead of cancelling. The GolfSixes Cascais is the only confirmed cancellation as of now.

On Monday, the Dubai Duty-Free Irish Open became the latest tournament to be postponed meaning the earliest possible return date for action on the European Tour is now June 4 at the Trophee Hassan II.

  • March 12-15: Magical Kenya Open – Postponed
  • March 19-22: Hero Indian Open – Postponed
  • April 16-19: Maybank Championship – Postponed
  • April 23-26: Volvo China Open – Postponed
  • April 30-May 3: Andalucia Masters – Postponed
  • May 9-10: GolfSixes Cascais – Cancelled
  • May 21-24: Made in Denmark – Postponed
  • May 28-31: Irish Open – Postponed
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PGA Tour to provide financial assistance to players and caddies during Coronavirus pandemic



The PGA Tour has announced plans to compensate both players and caddies after several Tour events were cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo sent to players on Friday, it was explained that due to IRS regulations, the Tour is not allowed distribute un-earned financial benefits to members, but that the organization has developed some programs to help its players during the ongoing pandemic. Players and caddies will receive financial assistance from the PGA Tour with one of the primary programs to help players based on their current FedEx Cup standing.

Players can receive up to $100,000 in bonus earnings during this period which will subsequently be removed from their season-ending bonus after play has been restarted.

Tour pros will also be entitled to request advance payments (up to $30k) for future Monday pro-am spots and advances on future earnings, while the Tour also plans on allowing players to withdraw funds from their retirement plans based on financial need.

“Playing opportunities equate to financial opportunities, and we are concerned about the toll that canceled tournaments are having on some of our members” – Tyler Dennis, a senior vice president and the Tour’s chief of operations.

Included in the memo were caddies, who are entitled to a partial mid-season distribution of an endorsement program and who can also request financial support from the Caddie Benevolent Fund.

Play is not set to resume on the PGA Tour until May 21 at the earliest.

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GolfWRX AUA (Ask Us Anything): TaylorMade fitters are answering YOUR questions!



With the downtime, #teamtaylormade are ready to talk golf!

Go to the link below to ask any TM specific questions you may have. TaylorMade fitters from across the US will be diving in the forums to answer questions, talk golf and get you dialed. Take this opportunity to go TM crazy.

Team TaylorMade fitters that will be participating:

  • Chris Clegg, Georgia
  • John Junkin, Pennsylvania
  • Lewis Schnauble, Maryland
  • John Tabor, Michigan
  • Freddy Villarta, California
  • Matt Zerishnek, Pennsylvania
  • James Albright, Arizona

Join the discussion here.

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