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.