The five-time major champion will be in the spotlight on the Angus coast after he astonishingly hit a moving ball in last month’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills to stop it going off the green. He incurred a two-shot penalty for a breach of rule 14-5, although many felt he should have been disqualified under rule 33-7, which also gives a tournament committee the right to disqualify a player for a serious breach of etiquette.
Asked if Mickelson would have been disqualified if his offence had been committed in The Open, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “I have talked to Phil since he’s been here last week. He also spoke to the media at the Scottish Open last week. Not putting words in, paraphrasing his words, but essentially admits that it wasn’t his finest hour, and I agree with that. “We understand the USGA and the referees’ decisions that were made at Shinnecock, and we completely respect those decisions. In the event of a similar situation this week, clearly, the first thing is you understand the facts because you never get the same situation and there will be lots of reasons. But we have looked very carefully at the rules, and I don’t think it was good for the game and not the right way to have played this wonderful sport, and we would make a decision based on the facts of any incident that happened later in the week.”
He added: “Rule 1-2 says you can’t use 1-2 if you’ve used another rule, so they used 14-5 which doesn’t have a DQ option in it. But there are other ways, there are other parts of the rule book which refer to etiquette and the powers of the committee, and we’re fully aware of those clauses that are in that rule.”