Phil Mickelson under fire after deliberately stopping ball at US Open

Phil Mickelson appeared to have a rush of blood as he hit a still moving putt Saturday

Phil Mickelson appeared to have a rush of blood as he hit a still moving putt Saturday

American golfer Phil Mickelson loses the plot at the US Open when he putts a moving ball.

Daniel Berger (66) and Tony Finau (66) led Englishman Justin Rose (73) by one stroke, and Swede Henrik Stenson (74) by two. He hit his next shot 176 yards, leaving it 35 yards from the hole. His mistake was to come out and try and justify it, that he had some plan and "I always meant to do this at some point and now I did it".

When Phil Mickelson got home Saturday evening - his head still spinning from one of the more freakish episodes of his highly entertaining and unpredictable career - one of the first things he did was call USGA executive director Mike Davis.

"I feel like they've kept it on the correct side". Knowing the rules is never a bad thing.

Rose described conditions as very hard and added: "The course was just a battle".

"I know the rules", Mickelson said.

Fellow Englishman Ian Poulter slipped down into a tie for 10th at seven over after a 76. "I'm sorry that you're taking it that way, it's certainly not meant that way". He remained in scoring for almost a half hour - he said he was refueling after a long day on the course - before facing dozens of reporters and cameramen.

Phil Mickelson's 48th birthday took a weird twist on Saturday as he was penalised for deliberately hitting a moving ball in the third round of the US Open.

Phil Mickelson became the talk of tonight's round in the US Open when sanctioned for putting a moving ball. He got himself out of the bunker, on to the greens and salvaged the whole by going for par. I would still be out there potentially.

"I said, 'That's one of the strangest things I've ever seen, ' and then just started laughing", Johnston said.

Mickelson played the third round with England's Andrew "Beef" Johnston, who had a hard time believing what he was seeing.

"John Daly's reputation took a hit after what he did at Pinehurst in '99 and I fear it will be the same for Phil", former U.S. Golf Association executive director David Fay said. "I've never seen anything like that from a world-class player in my life", said unusual. "He played a moving ball".

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The USGA opted not to disqualify Mickelson for Sunday, although there would have been grounds to do so.

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter said: "It was a deliberate breach of the rules". "I wasn't going to have a shot".

Usually the U.S. Open outrage is reserved for course setup, but Mickelson offered casual fans and purists something else to debate over the weekend.

But Mickelson then made bogey at the fifth and tacked on two more and eight and nine to go out in 37. "We are confident we can slow the golf course down going into Sunday".

Withdrawing won't be necessary, Davis told him.

Purists were understandably outraged by Mickelson's actions, though he defended what he did by citing the golf adage that the rules should be used to a player's advantage.

The USGA invoked Rule 14-5 which states a player "must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving".

"That's different than if he had deliberately just stopped the ball or whacked it in another direction or something like that". "Phil just snapped.Not sure what's more stunning!" Mickelson's fourth shot went on the green, 18 feet from the hole.

Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello, who finished his six-over 76 with a triple-bogey seven on the 18th, labelled it "not a fair test of golf".

"It was brutally tough". You don't get mulligans in business at this level.

Mickelson said that he's wanted to accept this penalty on other occasions in his career - including some years on the 15 hole at the Masters, when his ball would run off into the creek - but that with this particular hole location Saturday, "I could still be out there, potentially". Justin Rose is one shot back with Henrik Stenson a further shot adrift.

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