Rules Court: Freddie, Phil and the Case of the Sudden-Death Club Switch

Phil Mickelson
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Phil Mickelson, Annika Sorenstam, Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara at the 2003 Skins at the Trilogy Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif.

THE WITNESS: Fred Couples

THE DEFENDENT: Phil Mickelson

THE SCENE: 2003 Skins Game, Trilogy Golf Club, La Quinta, Calif.

THE CASE: The players needed a sudden-death playoff to determine the final skin of the two nine-hole contests. Before the extra holes, Mickelson switched one club in his bag for another. "In my 25, 26 years on Tour, I had never heard of a player doing that," Couples recalls. "So I asked [a Rules official], 'What the hell is he doing?'"

THE FACTS: Before the playoff, Mickelson's caddie replaced Lefty's 4-wood with a 2-iron. Mickelson then used that 2-iron for his approach on the first playoff hole.

THE VERDICT: Mickelson was within his rights. Because it was stroke play and the nine holes (which were the stipulated round in this event) had been completed, he technically could have switched out his entire bag. As for Couples, he went on to win the skin -- and $200,000.

This article originally appeared in Golf Magazine. Click here for a 30-day free trial of Golf Magazine and our tablet edition.


 

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