Would The R&A penalize Phil Mickelson harder, if something similar to the U.S. Open incident happened in The (British) Open Championship?

Hi all.

After Mickelson’s stroke to his ball in motion in the recent U.S. Open, there was a lot of criticism as to why he was not disqualified.

As you can see in my blog about the incident, he was penalized under Rule 14-5 (two penalty strokes) – a Rule that does not have a disqualification option.

Before the start of The 2018 (British) Open Championship, Martin Slumbers from the R&A was asked, whether or not Phil Mickelson would get disqualified, if something similar happened in the 2018 (British) Open Championship.

Here is what he answered:

As you can see, he did not directly answer “yes”. But he did indicate, that they would consider to penalize him harder. Thus he…:

  • … intimated that the R&A respected the USGA’s handling of the matter (but not that they agreed).
  • … suggested that the incident was not good for the game of golf.
  • … underlined, that there were other Rules (than Rule 14-5) that might have been used, presumably meaning Rule 33-7 (which gives the Committee an option to disqualify a player for a serious breach of etiquette).

Fortunately, it did not happen again (not for Mickelson or for any other player), so they did not get a chance to make a ruling about it.

By the way please note that Slumbers at the end of the video underlined that in 2019 there will be a disqualification option in the similar Rule (similar to Rule 14-5). (That Rule is Rule 10.1d and as far as I can see, there is not a possibility for disqualification, but only the General Penalty).

All in all, if a player does anything similar in the future I find it likely that they will be penalized harder (i.e. that they may risk disqualification).

But we will have to wait and see.


  1. Roy Edwards says

    The Secretary of the R&A is Martin Slumbers and not Martin Slumber.You have his correct name in the video clip but not in your text.

    1. Ray Calnan says

      PLEASE, would you use the English spelling of “PENALISE” without the Z.
      You are English based and be proud of your language, which is universally recognised as “ENGLISH”

      1. Anonymous says

        It is a mistake to believe that the spelling of “penalize” is an American spelling. The Times of London spells it with a Z, as it does similar words. This is because of its Greek origins. I do agree though that most British countries should follow the lead of the R&A, and spell the word “penalise”.


    @Ray: Sorry, Ray. Until one month ago I lived in New York and now I live in Denmark.
    @Roy: Thanks – I will correct it!

    /Brian Oswald

  3. Aidan says

    I expect it will be covered or added in .10.1d/×× as a ‘Decision’ or .whatever they are going to call them !! And hopefully in ‘Definitions’ they will be more precise with the definition of ‘Stroke’ – must ‘address the ball’ or ‘take a stance’ !!!

  4. Carl Thoreson says

    Golf is the only game in the world where players call penalties on themselves. But, it’s the only game in world where officials rule to the letter of the rule rather than the spirit of the rule. It’s quite clear to me that rule 14-5 was never intended to cover the Mickelson situation. But, since the Mickelson situation was not precisely spelled out in the rules, they could only use what was written in the rule.

    I am proud to play a game where the players are honorable enough to assess penalties on themselves. But, I wish officials and ruling bodies would learn how to enforce the spirit of the rule instead of the letter of the rule.

  5. Peter A says

    In the Interpretations, Section 1.2a/1 lists examples of what is likely to be considered as “serious misconduct” (ie rendering a player subject to disqualification). One of those examples is: “Deliberately not playing in accordance with the Rules and potentially gaining a significant advantage by doing so, despite incurring a penalty for a breach of the relevant Rule.”
    Mickelson’s original explanation of his conduct would have placed him squarely within that example.

  6. Brian Oswald - OSWALD ACADEMY says

    Exactly Peter. That seems to fit perfectly to Mickelson’s situation.

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