‘Naughty:’ Phil Mickelson coaches marshal in rules incident, gets fortunate drop

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson and a marshal on Friday to the right of the 18th hole at the the Silverado Resort and Spa North Course.


Phil Mickelson, in order on Friday on the par-5 18th on the Silverado Resort and Spa North Course, hooked his tee shot into the rough closer to the 1st hole, aimed at the right side of the spectator tent circling the green, hit his ball right of it, landed it in a small gap between the tent and a penalty area, saw a marshal had picked it up, had the marshal drop it and gave her the ball. 

And a few minutes later, he was home with a par. 

Mickelson may or may not have been in this exact spot before. But ever the adventurer, he’s been in this position plenty of times. Friday’s second round of the Fortinet Championship was also a masterclass in rules knowledge and escapability. With a touch of Phil.

“The way he was going through it, you could see he’s been in that type of situation before,” analyst Trevor Immelman said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “Experienced.” 

“He basically directed them,” announcer Terry Gannon said. “OK, here’s what we do.”

Here’s what happened, based on Golf Channel cameras. Mickelson, after the tee shot that went right and the second shot that went right off the grandstands that surround the green, walked to where he believed his ball had ended up, only to see the marshal holding it. First, he worked to replace his ball penalty-free through Rule 9.6 (“Ball Lifted or Moved by Outside Influence”).

“Naughty, naughty, naughty,” the marshal said as she held the ball. 

“Where did it end up roughly?” Mickelson asked her. 

“So like right about here,” the marshal said as she tossed the ball to the ground.  

“No, no, no, don’t throw it,” Mickelson said. 

“OK,” the marshal said.

“Just hold onto it,” Mickelson said. 

Next, he worked to get relief from the tent, a temporary immovable obstruction, through Model Local Rule F-23. Mickelson marked where the marshal had dropped his ball, confirmed with an official the scenarios and was on his way to the other side of the tent, yards closer to the green. 

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“She said roughly, yeah,” said Mickelson, speaking to both the official and the woman. “And I get a new one, so I’m going to go ahead and let her keep it. There’s a souvenir for you. Have a great day.”

“Ah the adventures of Phil Mickelson,” Gannon said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “Never dull. His ball was picked up initially and so that ensued and he does get to bring it back on this side.” 

“What’s amazing to me is that ball got between the grandstand and the penalty area,” analyst John Wood said. “There can’t be six yards of hard pan right there and somehow it settled itself right in between the two and the marshall happened to pick it up, so huge break.”

“I think that volunteer deserves more than a golf ball there with the break that she just gave him,” Immelman said.

“You might be right,” Gannon said.

From about 50 yards away, after the drop, Mickelson pitched to 11 feet, and he two-putted from there for the par. All this, too, had come two holes after an escapade on 16, where he hit driver off the deck in the rough and among the trees — before making birdie.

“The thing you got to remember about Phil is he’s played his entire life like this,” Wood said on the broadcast. “Other guys would have a bad ball-striking day off the tee and kind of panic — ‘I don’t know how to play from here.’ But Phil is so used to it. It doesn’t upset him. It doesn’t phase him. And not many people have that gene, I don’t think.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.