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Mickelson shrugs off controversy to shoot final-round 69

Phil Mickelson of the United States plays his shot from the eighth tee during the final round of the 2018 US Open
AFP

Southampton (United States) (AFP) – Phil Mickelson was all smiles Sunday, a day after his petulant gesture on the 13th green sparked a rules furor at the US Open Golf Championship.

Mickelson capped his 27th US Open with a one-under par 69 that included a par on the 13th — where he raised his arms in celebration.

A day earlier, a frustrated Mickelson watched his bogey attempt at the hole slide past the cup and as it was about to roll off the green he jogged after it and putted the moving ball back toward the hole.

Playing partner Andrew Johnston called the astonishing breach of golf etiquette “a moment of madness” but Mickelson later said there was method behind it.

“Look, I don’t mean disrespect to anybody,” the five-time major champion said. “I know it’s a two-shot penalty. At that time, I just didn’t feel like going back and forth and hitting the same shot over.”

After taking eight strokes to get the ball in the hole he was indeed assessed a two-stroke penalty for a 10 on the hole.

Officials said the two-stroke penalty was the appropriate sanction for violating the rule that bars players from making a stroke of a moving ball.

But as suggestions he should have been disqualified swirled on social media on Saturday night, US Golf Association president Mike Davis revealed Mickelson had called him to make sure he should still be playing on Sunday.

“He joked about it right as we went down the first hole,” Mickelson’s Sunday playing partner Rickie Fowler said. “So we had a good time.

“And then he made a good par save on 13, and it looked like he won the Masters. He didn’t jump, but he had a little celebration there.”

Mickelson’s closing 69 left him 16 over for the tournament, 13 adrift of the leading pack who had yet to tee off.

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