AUGUSTA, Ga. — Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t held a dull press conference since ever, took time on Tuesday at the Masters to address what he thinks is an ongoing problem on Tour.
Mickelson was asked about Lexi Thompson and the rules controversy that followed her playoff loss at the ANA Inspiration on Sunday, in which she was assessed a four-stroke penalty for misplacing her ball on the 17th green Saturday, and then subsequently signing an incorrect scorecard.
Thompson later posted on Instagram that moving her ball “was 100% not intentional.”
Before Mickelson voiced his opinion on L’Affaire Lexi, he took the opportunity to call out some of his fellow pros.
“So rather than address that specific instance, what I would say is this: I know a number of guys on Tour that are loose with how they mark the ball and have not been called on it,” he said. “I mean, they will move the ball two, three inches in front of their mark, and this is an intentional way to get it out of any type of impression and so forth and I think that kind of stuff needs to stop.”
Mickelson then elaborated on how Tour officials should police these violations.
“I think that the Tour should go to those players and say, look, we’ve noticed you’ve been a little lax in how precise you’ve been in marking the ball,” he said. “We’d like you to be a little bit better at it and see if that doesn’t just kind of fix the thing. Because we’ve all marked the ball imprecisely, especially when you’re standing on the side of the ball like she was and not directly behind the ball, in line with the hole, where it’s easy to draw a line.”
Mickelson, arriving at the topic of Thompson, then said she should have received a warning before the penalty.
“To have a tournament be decided like that, with all the scenarios going around, as far as viewers calling in, as far as it being a one-foot putt with really no advantage, just a little bit of loose marking, if you will, something that happens all the time, intentionally and unintentionally, I just think that’s — I think it should be reversed,” he said. “I think that she should be given the trophy.”
Later in the press conference, golf writer Alex Miceli asked Mickelson to clarify what he said about marking the ball within the Rules of Golf.
“Well, this is why I’m not trying to, I didn’t want to comment on it directly because I don’t want my words to be taken as though I’m commenting on the specific situation,” he said. “So I don’t really have a great answer for you, Alex. I don’t really want to expand on what I’ve already said. I feel like we’ve all kind of been a little lax at times in the markings of our golf ball and I hate to see it cost somebody a major championship because of that. But yet I would like to see that type of nuance of the game improved on both tours, especially ours.”
Mickelson tees off at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday with Si Woo Kim and Rafa Cabrera Bello. Complete tee times are here.