Phil Mickelson conceded he does a lot of “dumb stuff” after speaking at length for the first time about his controversial penalty during the US Open.
The five-time major winner was four over par for his third round at Shinnecock Hills when he badly over-hit a putt on the 13th and, seeing that it would roll off the green, prevented that from occurring by running after his ball and hitting it while it was still moving.
A number of fellow professionals felt Mickelson should have been disqualified for a serious breach of etiquette, but the left-hander was given a two-shot penalty for breaking rule 14-5 and eventually finished joint 48th.
Mickelson told critics of his actions to “toughen up” after claiming he was simply using the rules to his advantage, but a few days later sent a message to a handful of American journalists offering his apologies.
The 48-year-old was also penalised for tapping down some long grass in front of a tee during last week’s Greenbrier Classic and, speaking after an opening round of 70 in the ASI Scottish Open, said: “I’ve had a rough month. I haven’t been my best. So I’m working at trying to fix that.
“I made a big mistake (at the US Open) and I wish I could take it back, but I can’t. There’s not much I can do about it now other than just try to act a little better.
“The thing about this is throughout my career, 25 years, there have been a lot of times where I have had to be accountable for decisions I did not make. And the reason why this has actually been easier is it was my own fault.
“The backlash is my own fault. So it’s much easier to deal with than some of the times where I have not been involved in the decisions and had to deal with that.
“You have to be accountable for yourself. I do a lot of dumb stuff, right.
I have these moments where I’m like in a cloud, if you will, I’m not really sure what I’m doing or I’m just kind of going through the motions and not really aware at the moment, and I’ve done that a bunch in my career.”
Asked if his actions at the US Open were intended as a protest against the way the USGA had set up the course, Mickelson added: “There was just a bunch of stuff. But I had to let that go. It took me a few days to kind of let it go.
“Not only was I not great on the course, I was not great after the round, either. So it was just not a great day, and it was my birthday. So I tend to do dumb stuff on my birthday, too.
“At the time I was pretty angry. The way I show anger is not the traditionally accepted way of, you know, throwing clubs and berating the fans and marshals. I tend to be a little more passive aggressive in my actions, and that was kind of what I was doing.”
Mickelson also revealed that his potential 10 million-dollar (£7.5million) shootout with Tiger Woods is “close to having some stuff finalised”, but that he and Woods would not be putting up the money themselves.
“I would hope for a sponsor,” he said with a smile.
Ian Poulter believes his best is yet to come after playing his way into the Masters.
The Englishman needed a win at the Houston Open to advance into the year’s first major and duly delivered, making a 20-foot putt for birdie to get into a play-off and then capitalising on a Beau Hossler mistake to win a play-off.
It is all a far cry from last season when the 42-year old thought he had lost his card in America before being handed a reprieve after a recalculation.
The win was his first in six years but Poulter is now fully focused on getting back to his best and earning a place at the Ryder Cup.
He told a press conference streamed by the PGA Tour: “It’s tough when you’re down, when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, when everything seems to be going wrong, it’s hard, it gets you down.
“But it’s not the first time I’ve gone through some roller coasters. That’s as low as I’ve ever been, that’s as far down the world rankings as I’ve been, questioning whether you’ve got a Tour card or not – it isn’t very good.
“It’s not very good for your mental strength. It’s not very good for your psyche, but to reassess, to reform the team, Paul Dunkley, my agent, has done an incredible job… simplifying my life to get me back on track, it’s been amazing. The journey continues.
“I’ve had 19 good years on tour and I guess I’ve got another couple coming. There’s life in the old dog yet.”
With just one place up for grabs, only victory at the Golf Club of Houston would have been enough for the Englishman to earn his right to play in the season’s first major after narrowly missing out through his world rankings position and a mix-up during the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play last week.
Poulter found himself 51st in this week’s world rankings, with the top 50 players receiving an invite to Augusta National, which came two days after being informed that he had done enough to qualify ahead of his quarter-final in Mexico, only to be told 10 minutes before his defeat to Kevin Kisner that he required another victory.
His chances of qualification looked slim when he carded a poor first round – where he hit a one-over par 73 to sit 123rd – but recovered to record a flawless eight-under on Friday and seven birdies on Saturday to share the lead with Hossler ahead of the final round.
Poulter, who held a four-shot lead midway through the final round, trailed by one with three holes remaining after Hossler rattled in four successive birdies from the 12th, but the Englishman holed out a 20-foot birdie putt at the last to extend the tournament.
Hossler’s quest for his first PGA title ended in disaster after finding bunkers with his first two shots when replaying the 18th.
His third shot from a greenside bunker found water handing the initiative to Poulter, who kept his nerve to secure victory with a steady par – and sealing his first title since the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions.
Nine-time major champion Gary Player has hailed Jordan Spieth as the best putter he’s ever seen after the 23-year-old captured the Open Championship on Sunday.
Spieth put on a putting show late in the fourth round to recover from a shot behind after his fifth bogey of the day on the 13th, which involved a 20-minute ruling and playing his third shot from Royal Birkdale’s practice ground.
Player, a three-time Open winner, was full of praise for the young Texan, who joins Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three majors before the age of 24.
“We are tired of hearing commentators and parents and friends saying my son or this pro is a superstar in the future because he hits it so far. The putter is the master. The power of the putter, and he’s the best putter, maybe, and I’m reluctant to say, maybe the best putter that I’ve ever seen,” said Player.
Watch the South African’s reaction to Spieth’s triumph in the video below.