Can USGA change course of criticism about recent US Open setups?

Tod Leonard, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Golf

It was one of the most shocking, incongruous moments in 118 editions of the U.S. Open.

Last June, in the third round at Shinnecock Hills, Phil Mickelson watched his 18-foot putt trickle past the cup at the 13th hole. As the ball began to gain speed down the slope, the five-time major winner loped after it like a parent chasing a runaway toddler.

When he caught up, and with the ball still moving, Mickelson carelessly bumped it back toward the hole. Including a two-stroke penalty assessed for doing that, he eventually made a 10 en route to shooting 81.

In a meandering explanation in the aftermath, Mickelson, a six-time runner-up in the U.S. Open, admitted, "I've had multiple times where I wanted to do that; I just finally did it."

While he offered it was just a way to get on to the next hole, many viewed Mickelson's stunning, seemingly unsportsmanlike play as a preconceived middle finger to America's golf governing body, the U.S. Golf Association.

In that sentiment, Mickelson apparently has company.


Heading into the sixth U.S. Open to be played at Pebble Beach Golf Links, beginning Thursday, there is more chatter than ever about the current state of the USGA and U.S. Open.

Golf Digest recently interviewed 57 people -- players, instructors and caddies -- and behind a curtain of anonymity, many scorched the USGA on numerous fronts, including course selection, setup and the opinion that the U.S. Open's "tough but fair" identity has been lost in recent years.

Since the Golf Digest story, a number of high-profile players have gone on the record about their concerns.

At the Memorial a week ago, Mickelson didn't hold back in taking further shots at the USGA.


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