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U.S. Open 2019: Seagull moves Phil Mickelson’s ball, forces rare ruling at Pebble Beach

June 15, 2019

Given Pebble Beach’s location hard against the Pacific Ocean, players expect nature to play a role at any U.S. Open contested there. But Phil Mickelson had a wholly unexpected run-in with the natural world on Friday, in the form of a seagull that moved his golf ball.

Playing in the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open Friday afternoon, Mickelson smashed his drive on the difficult par-4 10th hole into the middle of the fairway. But before he could reach his ball, a seagull took interest in Phil’s bright white Callaway.

With TV cameras rolling, the seagull attempted to pick up the ball multiple times, causing the ball to move significantly from its original location.

Because the ball moved, the Rules of Golf had to be consulted to deal with the situation. Mickelson called in an official for assistance, but the bizarre incident actually resulted in a straight-forward ruling.

According to Rule 9.6, “If it is known or virtually certain that an outside influence (including another player in stroke play or another ball) lifted or moved a player’s ball” the player’s ball “must be replaced to its original spot.”

With the help of an official and an eye-witness, the original spot was determined. Mickelson then was permitted to lift and clean his ball, then place it back on the original spot.

Ultimately, it was a case of “no harm, no foul,” and it clearly didn’t disrupt Mickelson’s early momentum in the third round. Phil proceeded to knock his approach at the 10th onto the green and then roll in a 27-footer for birdie.

The clutch putt moved Mickelson back to three under on the round and two under for the tournament, five shots off the lead.

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