Lefty loses it: Mickelson swats moving ball with his putter

VIDEO Phil Mickelson Hits Moving Ball Out of Frustration at U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson celebrated his birthday Saturday with a burst of temporary insanity during the third round of the U.S. Open.

Whether he ever wins a U.S. Open - and that prospect is increasingly bleak at age 48 - Phil Mickelson will be remembered for what happened on the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills on Saturday.

It's a black eye for Phil, at least according to the announcers at today's U.S. Open.

"It's my understanding of the rules".

"I know it's a two shot penalty and at that time I just didn't feel like going back and forth and hitting the same shot". I just finally did.

After sending a bogey putt speeding past the cup on the 13th hole, Mickelson basically snapped.

Dustin Johnson had a four-shot lead teeing off, and eight holes later he is +6 for his round, now two shots behind leader Henrik Stenson.

During the third round of the US Open, the five-time major champion had one of his worst career rounds.

"No question, it was going to go down in the same spot behind the bunker", he said. I think I four-putted [No.] 15 and I mean the first putt is probably two foot away from being a good putt, ya know?

As he walked off the green, he could be seen smiling and talking to playing partner Andrew Johnston, who also was smiling. "I think it's just a moment of madness". As that chip rolls past the pin he's there to receive it, effectively alley-ooping the ball towards (or even into!) the hole, accepting the two-shot penalty and moving on rather than facing a drop and potential disaster. But wouldn't a more logical rule have been 1-2, which dictates that "a player must not take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play?" And as it released and went through, I thought wow, that is seriously quick.

But social media erupted at what was perceived as a serious breach of etiquette by Mickelson, one of the most beloved players in the game.

Instead, in a surprising post-round interview, the American claimed that his decision to putt his moving ball back up the green was indeed a deliberate action.

The rules of golf state: "A player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving".

"I've had multiple times where I've wanted to do that. You take the two shots and you move on".

"So I'm going to have to be a little more aggressive around the greens, trying to get the ball to the hole".

Mickelson's stunning smack was reminiscent of John Daly's outburst during the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

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