Another start, another rules violation for Phil Mickelson.
Lefty has been giving the rule book a bit of a workout this summer, and that effort continued Sunday at The Greenbrier when he tapped down some long fescue grass with his foot in front of the seventh tee box. Because the grass was along his intended line of flight, Mickelson called a two-shot penalty on himself after consulting with a rules official for a violation of Rule 13-2:
After consulting a rules official, Phil Mickelson assessed himself a 2-stroke penalty for improving his line of play (violation of Rule 13-2). pic.twitter.com/61GiY5ggaj— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 8, 2018
According to Rule 13-2, a player may not improve the area of his intended stance or swing, or his line of play, by a series of actions that includes "moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed" and "creating or eliminating irregularities of surface." Had Mickelson re-teed his ball in a different area of the tee box, where the grass in question wasn't along his intended line, he would not have been penalized.
Mickelson, who started the day nine shots off the lead, made a double bogey on No. 7 after the two-shot penalty was added and ultimately shot a 4-over 74 after closing with a triple bogey on the 18th hole. He finished the week in a tie for 66th at 1 under par.
This marks Mickelson's first start since the U.S. Open, where he created a storm of controversy by deliberately hitting a moving ball on the green during the third round. He was ultimately assessed a two-shot penalty but not disqualified and went on to tie for 48th at Shinnecock Hills.
Mickelson is in the field for next week's Scottish Open before heading to Carnoustie in search of his second Open victory the following week.
After the round, Mickelson told reporters that he was planning to hit a low iron shot on No. 7 that he expects to use frequently over the next two weeks in Scotland and "wasn't really paying attention or thinking."
"I just had a few bonehead moves today," Mickelson said. "It's just one of those things... A lot of times guys just inadvertently do things, and I just wasn't thinking."
Mickelson will now fly to Europe before playing a Monday practice round at Ryder Cup host Le Golf National outside Paris, followed by rounds at Gullane on Tuesday and Carnoustie on Wednesday prior to the start of the Scottish Open.
"I'm looking forward to getting over there," Mickelson said. "I've got to get my short game a little sharper. My iron play wasn't great, but I'm looking forward to heading over."