Phil Mickelson’s PGA Championship was saved by a rules official during the second round at Oak Hill Country Club on Friday.
On the sixth hole, Mickelson, 52, hit his tee shot into the water along the right side of the fairway and afterwards he dropped a ball where he believed the original shot had entered the water.
Subsequently, he planned to give himself two club lengths of relief and when asking playing partner Rickie Fowler how it looked, Fowler gave a thumbs up that he was in the clear.
A rules official disagreed, making his way over to Mickelson to tell him that it was an incorrect drop and he would have resulted in a 1-stroke penalty if he played his ball from the wrong position.
At first, he argued against the rules official and asked for a second opinion.
The second rules official agreed with the first and Mickelson thanked the first for preventing him from making a mistake.
“The guy came over and saved me a penalty because I had dropped it in the ruling under last year and didn’t realize it had been changed, and he came and saved me a stroke, so I was very appreciative,” Mickelson said after his round.
Mickelson was already 5-over after 36 holes, right on the cut line.
And that’s where he finished.
“I ended up hitting it in the hazard and took line-of-sight and came back,” Mickelson continued. “I didn’t know that they changed the rule this year, whereby you normally could take the point in line and then you have that two-club-length semicircle. I guess in January they changed that to where you just only get line-of-sight.”
Mickelson so far hasn’t played up to his Masters standards where he tied for second in April.
He was at 3-over in the first round at the PGA Championship and things didn’t get much better.
Through two rounds, he had hit a mere 8 of 28 fairways through 36 holes, which tied for 133rd in the field.
However, Friday marked the 100th time Mickelson has made the cut in a major, and his 27th at the PGA Championship, which ties him with Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd for the most in tournament history.
“I came in here very optimistic,” Mickelson said. “The first two days I’ve played terrible. I’ve driven it poorly. I’ve not felt good with the putter. I haven’t chipped great. My irons have been average. It makes me optimistic that I still made the cut playing as poorly as I did, and I think if I can get it turned around, I can make a run.”
Mickelson’s return to the PGA Championship comes a year after his controversial comments about the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s history of human rights abuses went public, resulting in him skipping the tournament all together in 2022.
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