Phil Mickelson penalized two strokes for improving line of play

July 13, 2018

Phil Mickelson, for the second time in as many starts, was penalized for a rules violation.

The latest incident came during the final round of A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier on Sunday. About to play the 439-yard par-4 7th hole, Mickelson walked to the front of the tee box and patted down some fescue with his foot. A few seconds later, as he was standing behind his ball, you can hear him say, “I’m not sure what I just did is legal,” presumably to caddie Tim Mickelson. “… I’ll ask somebody.”

Turns out what Mickelson did was in fact illegal. He flagged down a rules official coming down the fairway, who then sought clarification and later reported back to Mickelson that it was a two-stroke penalty for a violation of Rule 13-2, which covers improving line of play. “A player must not improve or allow to be improved his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole by removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position.”

The two-stroke penalty led to a double-bogey 6 for Mickelson, who opened the day nine back of the leaders. Mickelson closed with a four-over 74 to finish one under for the tournament.

Mickelson’s penalty comes three weeks after he became the biggest story of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, when he was penalized — but ultimately not disqualified — for hitting a moving golf ball during the third round.

You can see how Sunday’s rules incident played out below.