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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson hit with 2-stroke penalty at Greenbrier. See what happened



“I’m not sure what I just did is legal…I’ll ask somebody,” Phil Mickelson said after patting down fescue in front of the teebox at the seventh hole during the final round of A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.

Unfortunately for Mickelson, his actions were not legal. After conferring with rules official, Mickelson was told he had run afoul of the Rules of Golf for the second time in as many tournaments.

Rule 13-2 states in part,

“A player must not improve or allow to be improved his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole by removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position.”

Flattening fescue in one’s line of play is a violation, to be sure. Mickelson took a two-stroke penalty accordingly.

See the incident below.

But here’s where things get truly bizarre. Mickelson didn’t have to take the penalty. I mean, right? He hadn’t hit the tee shot. All he would have had to do is re-tee his ball in another position, thus taking a different line, right?

Of course, after he hits the ball, the damage is done (Mickelson consulted a rules official after the tee shot, so the official wasn’t able to intercede). But if he was concerned he may have broken a rule, why wouldn’t he have pressed pause on hitting the tee shot and called for an official then? Am I missing something here?

What do you think about this latest bit of Mickelsonian Rules-related drama, GolfWRX members?

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  1. BCC

    Jul 12, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Q. On the teeing ground, a player broke off a branch of a tree which was interfering with his swing. The player maintained that such action was not a breach of Rule 13-2 because his ball was not yet in play. Was the player correct?

    A. No. The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 for improving the area of his intended swing. Although Rule 13-2 allows a player to eliminate irregularities of surface on the teeing ground, it does not allow him to break a branch interfering with his swing. The penalty would apply even if the player, before playing his next stroke, re-teed elsewhere on the teeing ground – see Decision 13-2/24.

  2. Cebe Jansen

    Jul 9, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    So it’s OK to ground my putter in front of my ball on my putting line before I make the putt?

    • Stuart G.

      Jul 9, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      Yes – with some restrictions – see rule 16-1.

      • Ell

        Jul 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm

        and is it ok to step on the ground behind my ball on the tee?

  3. Sein Kang

    Jul 9, 2018 at 11:38 am

    I think Phil is losing interest in the game…its sad to say but he’s nearing the end. He just doesnt care anymore…

    • Ell

      Jul 9, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      No I think its about time for the USGA and the PGA to edit the rule book and reduce it to 10 pages.

  4. Chuck Barkley

    Jul 9, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Was it Dill Pickleson that said, “I’m such an idiot?” Yeah, I think it applies here.

  5. Man

    Jul 9, 2018 at 1:24 am

    He’s losing his mind and is becoming barmy without Bones at his side

  6. Tom

    Jul 8, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    oh my gawd ! it’s a conspiracy !

  7. geohogan

    Jul 8, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    How long will the USGA allow Phil to thumb his nose at them and normalize disrespect for the Rules of Golf?

    • Ell

      Jul 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      How long will it take the USGA to get rid of 85% of their absolutely ridiculous rules?

  8. Mat

    Jul 8, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    I hate the difficulty of the Rules, but this is an easy one. You can’t go make the course easier before you hit a shot. No more basic than that.

    In fact, it’s so blazingly simple, I think Phil did that on purpose to make him look like a good guy.

    • ljp

      Jul 8, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      so blazingly simple that he, his caddy, and the announcers thought it was legal…

      • Fang

        Jul 10, 2018 at 2:08 am

        If you think Phil didn’t know it was a penalty then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. He did it on purpose in an attempt to retrieve his image.

  9. ogo

    Jul 8, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    The Rules of Golf are sacred… even though not well understood by the top pro players in the world… so where does that leave us struggling rec players?!! 🙁

    • Christopher

      Jul 8, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      If you’re playing for recreation who cares? Your main goal is to have a fun day playing the game you love. If you’re with other players you just ask them what’s acceptable. It’s like any other game, you agree with your buddies what’s what and have fun.

      If you’ve got a pencil and card the rules aren’t that difficult, sure, there are some obscure rules, but if the ball’s in play, you can’t go far wrong.

      • orangeology

        Jul 9, 2018 at 4:11 pm

        good point, but you don’t touch the soccer ball with your hand only because you play soccer ‘recreationally’. rules are the rules in the world of sports, that are concerns of everyone whether professional or weekend-isque. it is a known fact that lots of lines in the golf rule book are outdated, stupid-sounding and too much. why should it be that hard to make it better? i want to believe Phil did it on purpose to ridicule, and i wouldn’t have a prob with his act if that so. and no i am not even a fan of Phil.

    • Johnny Penso

      Jul 8, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      I think this is Phil’s attempt to regain some credibility after his recent putt chasing penalty where he should have gotten disqualified. “See, look at me, I can call penalties on myself”.

      • aupga

        Jul 9, 2018 at 12:40 pm


      • Fang

        Jul 10, 2018 at 2:10 am

        It is obvious, you would think he could wait a month or two before doing it though.

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19th Hole

68 at the British Open in the morning, golf with hickories at St Andrews in the afternoon



Yes, golf fans, just another day in the charmed life (or week, at least) of one Brandon Stone.

Stoney (as I assume his friends call him), came to Carnoustie on the heels of a final-round 60 to win the Scottish Open. All he did in his opening round was fire a 3-under 68. Not bad!

But his Thursday to remember was only getting started as Stone made the 25-mile trip south to the Old Course to peg it…with a set of hickory clubs! Well played, sir, well played.

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19th Hole

Jean van de Velde’s 1999 British Open collapse is still tough to watch in LEGO form



Gather ‘round, golf fans, for the saddest British Open story ever told–in LEGOs.

Maestro of the plastic medium, Jared Jacobs, worked his singular magic on Jean van de Velde’s notorious final-hole collapse at Carnoustie in 1999.

The interlocking plastic brick cinema begins after van de Velde’s approach shot has caromed off a grandstand railing to land on the opposite side of the Barry Burn.


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19th Hole

Sung Kang finally responds to cheating allegations



Sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled British Open programming, but Sung Kang stated today he still doesn’t think he didn’t anything wrong. “I followed the rules by the rules official…I think I did the right thing,” he said after his opening round at The Open.

Joel Dahmen, if you recall, accused the 31-year-old pro of taking a bad drop at the 10th hole during the final round of the Quicken Loans National.

The comments were Kang’s first public remarks since a statement co-released with the PGA Tour which said, “He is standing by the ruling that was made by PGA Tour Rules officials on Sunday and will have no further comment.”

While he stopped short of giving his side of the story, Kang did indeed make “further comment.”

Here’s some of what he said.

“I did not want to say anything bad about Joel. Because there can be difference of opinions. But the way he just said it on Twitter was not right. There can be different opinions. And also, it was made a decision by the rules official. So nothing was wrong.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened, but no comment because I’m not going to say anything. I think I made the right decision. … Even when I say something, a few people still kind of think i still did something wrong. And if someone believes in me, they aren’t going to trust what Joel said.”

“No matter what I say, some people are going to trust it, some people are not going to trust it. And then I’m going to be thinking about it more and more. So I’m just focusing on my golf game.”

The British press asked Kang if he wishes he had done anything differently.

“No. Why? I did the right thing,” Kang replied.

Now, I’m not here to argue one way or the other, but the rules official wasn’t in position to do anything other than leave things at the player’s discretion, which he did. So, it’s misleading–if not downright deceptive–for Kang to suggest otherwise.

The official didn’t see the shot. There was no video of it. The only thing he had to rely on was the accounts of those who did see it. In a situation where accounts vary, and with the Rules of Golf relying on player integrity as they do, all he could do was leave the ball in Kang’s court. Thus, the decision as to where to drop was wholly Sung Kang’s.

Again, this isn’t to say the drop was necessarily bad, bad to play the “decision by the rules official” card is, well, a bad drop.


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19th Hole