Golf superstar Phil Mickelson continues to have a rough weekend at the US Open, to the point where he thought he’d hit a fan in the head with a shot during second round play on Friday.
Mickelson, 52, has been embroiled in controversy in recent weeks after signing up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league – and he was hit with another apparent stroke of bad luck Friday.
The three-time Masters champ was playing catchup during a second round that saw him ultimately miss the cut to continue playing over the weekend at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
His tee shot on No. 3 landed in the rough to the right, and when he arrived at his ball he saw a man sitting on the ground, holding an icepack to his right temple, with medical staff gathered around.
Mickelson went over and gave the man a glove and apologized. But there was only one problem: It was Sam Horsfield’s shot from the neighboring sixth hole that actually hit him.
His tee shot on No. 3 landed in the rough to the right, and when he arrived at his ball he saw a man sitting on the ground, holding an icepack to his right temple, with medical staff gathered around. Mickelson went over and gave the man a glove and apologized. One problem: It was Sam Horsfield’s shot from the neighboring sixth hole that hit him
Golf superstar Phil Mickelson continues to have a rough weekend at the US Open, to the point where he thought he’d hit this fan (pictured left) in the head with a shot during second round play on Friday
The three-time Masters champ was playing catchup during a second round that saw him ultimately miss the cut to continue playing over the weekend at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts
Mickelson, 52, has been embroiled in controversy in recent weeks after signing up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league
Sam Horsfield (pictured center) who has also joined LIV Golf, was the one who hit the ball that struck the spectator
‘It’s just instinct,’ Mickelson said, drawing laughter from the gallery. ‘I would normally think it’s me.’
That’s how things went for the six-time runner-up at The Country Club this week: a series of apologies, interrupted by a whole lot of bad golf shots.
‘Wish I had played better,’ Mickelson, who declined to talk to reporters, said in a transcript that was distributed by the USGA on Friday after he followed a first-round 78 with a 3-over 73 to finish 11 over and miss the cut at plus-3.
‘It was OK. I had a good day,’ he added.
A six-time major champion who has become the face of the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf tour, Mickelson was competing on American soil for the first time in more than four months.
Fans didn’t seem that bothered by Mickelson’s defection, even at one point singing “Happy Birthday” to him a day late.
Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na have all joined the new Saudi golf league and are reportedly making ‘millions’ off it.
Mickelson reportedly made $200 million to move to the new series. The Saudi backing of the new tour has led to criticism that those playing in the events are helping the kingdom whitewash its widely criticized human rights record and its connection to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Players such as Johnson, were reportedly offered $125million and golf legend Tiger Woods reportedly turned down a near ‘billion-dollar’ contract.
When Mickelson was asked at a press conference ‘why he was here,’ the golfer replied that he didn’t ‘condone’ human rights violations and cited ‘the good the game of golf has done’ as his reason for being there.
Mickelson, 51, reportedly went to the league for $200million, despite previously saying Saudis were ‘scary motherf**kers to be involved with’ and had a ‘horrible human rights record’ after killing Khashoggi. He said at a recent press conference that he didn’t ‘condone’ human rights abuses, but thought the ‘game of golf’ could change things
Saudi Arabia has been accused of many human rights violations, including the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (pictured)
Mickelson also said ‘LIV golf is going to do a lot for the game as well,’ and repeatedly said he did not ‘condone’ abuse. However, Mickelson did not say how the alleged violations factored into his decision to join the league.
Mickelson and 16 other golfers have been ‘suspended’ indefinitely by the PGA for playing in the LIV events. The players reportedly ‘did not receive the necessary conflicting event and media rights release – or did not apply for releases at all,’ an internal PGA memo said, according to CNBC.
‘These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons. They can’t demand the same PGA TOUR membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as [members],’ the memo read.
A 9/11 support group also recently sent the American defectors a scathing letter saying that the golfers ‘betrayed’ victims of 9/11 by joining the league.
The furious message was sent directly to representatives of Mickelson, Johnson, DeChambeau, Reed and Na, with the claim that they have become ‘complicit’ in the ‘whitewashing’ of Saudi Arabia’s reputation by cashing in with the controversial LIV Invitational Series.
Mickelson smiles after playing from the pine needles on the 3rd hole on the first day of the LIV Golf Invitational Series event at The Centurion Club in St Albans, north of London, on Thursday
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly ordered the killing, but he has denied any involvement. Stern claimed the Saudi-backed league was created so ‘everything will be fixed’ and the country can repair its image. He also claimed leaders, like Salman, were ‘pieces of s**t’ with a lot of money to throw around
In citing Saudi Arabia’s prominent role in the terror attack, Terry Strada, the chair of 9/11 Families United, wrote: ‘Whether it was the appeal of millions of dollars of hard cash, or just the opportunity to prosecute your professional grievances with the PGA, you have sold us out.
‘This is a betrayal not only of us, but of all your countrymen.’
Strada, whose husband died in the attack, added: ‘Our community wishes to express our outrage at your partnership with LIV Golf and remind you of the responsibility that your new business partner, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, shoulders for providing the financial support and logistical support that enabled the terrorists to attack our nation and kill our loved ones.
‘As you may know, Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis. It is the Kingdom that has spent 20 years in denial: lying about their activities, and cowardly dodging the responsibility they bear.
‘Yet these are your partners, and much to our disappointment, you appear pleased to be in business with them,’ the letter read. ‘Please, do not insult our loved one’s memories and take the pathetic position, as one of your foreign colleagues did last week, claiming you are ‘just golfers playing a game’ or blandly treating the evils of the Saudi regime as ‘human rights’ concerns.
Dustin Johnson (left) has also defected to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Series for a reported $125million. Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters Champion, (right) is the latest high-profile player to join the tour
Mickelson isn’t giving up on playing on the PGA Tour again after being suspended for joining LIV.
During his 25-minute session with reporters on Monday in Brookline, Massachusetts ahead of the Open, Mickelson said his preference would be ‘to be able to choose which path I’d like. One or the other or both.’
‘I’m very appreciative of the many memories, opportunities, experiences, friendships and relationships the PGA Tour has provided and those are going to last a lifetime,’ Mickelson said. ‘But I’m hopeful that I’ll have a chance to create more.’
Asked why he ultimately made the move, he said, ‘I think that there is an obvious incredible financial commitment.’
Mickelson, who turned 52 on Thursday, earned a five-year exemption to the US Open when he won the PGA Championship last year. It means five more chances to capture the only major that has eluded him.