Phil Mickelson goes on vulgar, 4-day rant over contentious USGA move

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson on the 18th green at Augusta National, after his final round at this year's Masters.

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Phil Mickelson, over four separate days this week on Twitter, ripped a three-month-old USGA decision that will potentially exclude a fellow LIV Golf player from its premier event, the U.S. Open.

In his final three tweets, Mickelson slammed USGA CEO Mike Whan. All contained the same vulgar phrase.  

“Just a d!*k move,” Mickelson partially tweeted at 7:38 a.m. ET.

“Like I said, a d!*k move,” he partially tweeted at 8:10 a.m. 

“Total d!*k move by Whan,” he partially tweeted at 9:29 a.m. 

The rant comes after the USGA reworded one of its exemptions into the U.S. Open and could potentially deny Talor Gooch — and only Gooch — a spot into this year’s tournament, which will be played next month. Previously, players who qualified for the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship gained entry into the Open — but in early February, the USGA adjusted the exemption to say: “Those players who qualified and were eligible for the season-ending 2022 Tour Championship.”

That affected Gooch — he had qualified for the tournament, but was suspended by the Tour when he joined Saudi-backed LIV Golf. And at least publicly, the move did not gain attention — until last week, when Gooch pointed it out on a podcast. He had called it a retroactive decision, though that was inaccurate, and he still could gain U.S. Open entry through his world ranking or a special invite (but the latter is unlikely). 

The discussion continued this week. Whan, in an interview with Golf Channel, said this of the move: “Any time we make changes to our criteria going forward it impacts somebody and that stinks, but we can only look forward.” Golf Digest put that quote on a Twitter graphic. And that brings us to Mickelson, the outspoken, six-time major champion who also plays for LIV. 

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On Friday morning, he tweeted this, in response to a tweet that shared the graphic: 

“Hey Mike,what about changing  a rule and making it retroactive to exclude someone who has already qualified? How can Talor Gooch not take that personal? It’s a direct attack on him and his career. How does it benefit the usga or US open? It doesn’t. Just a d!*k move.”

He tweeted more on Friday. On the same thread, a user wrote: “If Talor Good was one of the best in the world he’d already be qualified” — to which Mickelson replied: “Yep. He qualified 9 months ago via Tour championship. 3 months ago Whan changed the wording on the qualifying criteria to take it away. Total d!*k move by Whan. He leads our governing body. Sad.” He then replied to a tweet from Wednesday. 

Then, a user wrote: “You left something out, cowboy. He was suspended because he played in LIV events without a release. Niemann played in the Tour Championship and then left for the LIV tour, and is eligible for the US Open. Gooch wants to leave when he wants and play where he wants. Selfish child.” And that drew this response from Mickelson: “Hey cowboy, The USGA is not the pga tour. His pga tour suspension has nothing to do with the USGA. The rule clearly stated he qualified via tour championship. He did not have to play. Whan changed the rule 6 months after the fact to exclude him. Like I said, a d!*k move.”

Those three responses followed nine similar-themed tweets, from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Below are three of the tweets (and all of the tweets can be found here): 

On Tuesday, Mickelson tweeted this: “Mike Whan  recently changed the wording from “qualified”for the Tour championship to “eligible.” Thereby taking away Gooch’s exemption since he wasn’t eligible to play even though he had qualified.This doesn’t make the US open better in any way but does help collude with the Tour.”

On Wednesday, he tweeted this, a reference to a thought that Whan was talking with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan: “I don’t like mixing what I know to be facts with speculation. Why Whan singled out Gooch is speculation. My theory is it was a way to flex his muscle and help JM show his players the power he has to keep them out of majors. Gooch is the only one it applied to.”

On Thursday, he tweeted once on the subject. 

“Talor qualified last September.”

Notably, last year’s Tour Championship was played Aug. 25 to 28.

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