Champion performers are known for feeding off the energy of a crowd. However, on Thursday, the crowd didn’t help Phil Mickelson at all.
As “Lefty” began his quest to complete golf’s vaunted Grand Slam at the U.S. Open, the PGA champ became increasingly distracted by spectators who declined to turn their cell phone cameras off.
— Todd Strain (@TODDSTRAINNBCSD) June 17, 2021
As ESPN reports:
Mickelson was visibly and audibly irritated during one instance on the 13th hole — his fourth — in which he three times backed off a shot from just off the fairway to ask that a cell camera be switched off.
The third time resulted in a police officer being summoned, and while Mickelson did not use it as an excuse, he pushed his approach well left into a bush and had to take a penalty stroke.
Mickelson acknowledged fan distraction as “part of professional golf,” but still didn’t understand why it’s so hard for fans to exercise basic courtesy.
“It’s part of professional golf,” Mickelson said. “You have to learn to deal with it. I don’t understand why you just can’t turn that little button on the side into silent. I probably didn’t deal with it internally as well as I could have or as well as I need to. It’s part of playing the game out here at this level. Certainly I didn’t do the best job of dealing with it.”
Mickelson continued, “It did it the next three or four shots thereafter too, so it’s not like that’s the first time, it’s just that you had to ask three times. Again, it’s part of the game. It’s part of professional golf. You have to be able to let that go and not let it get to you and be able to kind of compose yourself and regather your thoughts and so forth, but they certainly didn’t do me any favors, either.”
“Mickelson, who turned 51 on Wednesday, managed just one birdie in a round of 4-over-par 75 that left him eight shots back of clubhouse leader Russell Henley,” ESPN reports.