By now most golfers will have made up their mind about the notorious Phil Mickelson incident at the 2018 US Open. However the USGA ruling shows there was never any possibility of an alternative outcome; including disqualification.
During play of the 13th hole Mickelson made a stroke on the putting green at his moving ball. As a result, he incurred a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 14-5; the stroke made at the moving ball also counted. His score for the hole was 10. Rule 14-5 does not include a serious breach clause or disqualification as part of the penalty statement. Rule 1-2 did not apply in this situation because Mickelson made a stroke at the ball, as opposed to an act to deflect or stop the ball in motion, which are two acts covered by Rule 1-2. Additionally, Exception 1 under Rule 1-2 states that “an action expressly permitted or expressly prohibited by another Rule is subject to that other Rule and not Rule 1-2.” A serious breach of this Rule may incur disqualification. It would have been preferred if he had apologised and withdrawn before the next round commenced. He has since had the sense to correct his original assertion that he had made a deliberate action to “take advantage of the Rules”. He later tweeted; “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry“.