SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson walked past dozens of print and TV journalists gathered outside the scoring area on Sunday at the U.S. Open and into the loving arms of the people. He quite literally turned his back on the press and signed autographs for the adoring New York crowd.
One day after Mickelson stunned the golf world with his slapstick antics on the 13th green, he returned to the scene of controversy and threw his hands up as though he’d won the championship after converting a 5-foot par putt. One had to wonder if he had waited all day to do that.
As Mickelson posed for selfies, the press patiently waited him out even though word had already come down from his agent that there would be no interviews.
Amy Mickelson, dressed in solid black like her husband, stood off the side of the pro shop porch. For as long as they’ve been in this together, Saturday night at the U.S. Open was like nothing they’d experienced before. Phil knew the rule, Amy said, but when he got home and heard all the talk about disqualification, he picked up the phone during the afternoon telecast.
“When he heard that he called Mike Davis and said ‘If I’ve done something that crosses the line that much, then I need to withdraw immediately,’ ” Amy said.
Davis assured Phil that he was well within the rules. He closed with a 1-under 69 on a much more receptive Shinnecock Hills.
“You know it’s not his finest moment,” said Amy, “but hopefully he’ll learn from it. Like anybody, good people make mistakes. We all have a moment in life sometimes and that was kind of a moment I think for him.”
Once Phil got to the end of the autograph line, he kept grinning as he faced the media and headed toward the range. At this point, a smaller contingent of reporters rushed behind seeking comment.
When asked if he regretted what happened Saturday, he said: “The real question is, what will I do next? I don’t know.”
Once he walked into player hospitality, the hunt was over.
Amy said she was “a little bit” surprised that Phil didn’t formally speak with the press but couldn’t really blame him.
“He has been pretty under fire,” she said. “A lot of people have been pretty rough. … . It’s not like we’re in his shoes and understand what he has gone through. You and me, we are looking at it from the outside, sitting in the press room or family dining. … They’re playing sports for a living, but still in the moment it’s a very heavy week, an intense week. A lot happens over the course of 24 hours every day.
“I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I think he’s ready to go.”