For more than a week, golf rules purists have been calling for Phil Mickelson’s head. Others accepted his two-stroke penalty for hitting a ball while it still was moving during the U.S. Open’s third round June 16.
Thoughts on this subject from some folks were solicited during the aftermath of a unique 117th U.S. Open.
As always, Randy Hodsdon, Maine State Golf Association Tournament Director, put the Mickelson situation into perspective.
“There is precedent for this,” Hodsdon said of Mickelson striking a moving golf ball on the 13th hole. “In 1999 at Pinehurst, John Daly did almost the same thing. Under rule 14-5, it is a two-stroke penalty.”
Dan Patrick, host of the popular morning sports talk show heard in Maine on WJAB, said on June 18 that he would have disqualified Mickelson. But as Hodsdon pointed out, the United States Golf Association already has a rule covering this very specifically, and it was enforced.
This became the most popular post-U.S. Open subject of golf conversation by the radio and television media. There were lots of other topics to address:
- Brooks Koepka won for the second time in succession, something which had not been done since Curtis Strange accomplished this feat in 1988 and 1989.
- Tiger Woods, after failing to make the cut, will lose his 10-year U.S. Open champion exemption for next year’s Open at Pebble Beach, meaning he will have to play and finish well in more 2018 PGA Tour events. He last won the Open in 2008.
- The difficult playing conditions and pin placements at Shinnecock reportedly have resulted in some players claiming they will never again participate in a U.S. Open at that course. U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis acknowledged that the pin placements for the afternoon of June 16 were unfair. Clearly, the R&A (Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) officials who run the British Open have a better handle on how to control conditions on windy courses.
- Not prominently noticed is the fact that Tommy Fleetwood carded a final round 63 to tie for the all-time lowest U.S. Open round, a record held by six players.
- New England golf fans probably would like to hear more media talk about Brockton firefighter Matt Parziale, who finished tied for 48th place and tied for the best amateur score in the Open. And how cool was it that Matt’s father, a retired firefighter, was his caddie in the final round? Parziale qualified for the 2018 Masters and Open by winning the 2017 USGA National Mid-Amateur crown.
A significant women’s tournament, the Metropolitan Championship, is slated for June 25 and 26 at Turner Highlands, with 128 women playing each day. It is a team competition with individual prizes for low gross and net scores.
Barbara Freeman, who lives in Portland and plays out of Purpoodock, oversees this event as a Maine State Golf Association tournament manager for the southern part of the state. She said that to win the club championship all players in a foursome must be members of the same club. The scores are based on the best ball of four.
Reese McFarlane of Purpoodock continues to be Maine’s hottest golfer. He recorded a 65 at Webhannet on June 18 in the New England Amateur qualifier, which made him the medalist. McFarlane shot 60 at Fairlawn and 64 at Cape Arundel last month in MSGA Weekend Events.
A total of 26 players qualified for the tournament to be held July 17-19 at Portland, 18 of whom were Mainers. Brian Bilodeau of Martindale shot a 71 to tie for sixth place.
Another busy week is on tap in Maine. A Maine Amateur qualifier is set at Waterville on June 25, with the two-day Women’s Metropolitan Championship beginning that day at Turner Highlands. An MSGA Mid-Week Event will be June 28 at Sunday River, and the MSGA Weekend Event is June 29-30 at Bridgton Highlands.