Mickelson calls Sunday setup of third hole 'terrible'
Was Lefty in the right?
It’s just another meaty question for us to chew on as we parse Phil Mickelson’s comments about the USGA’s set-up of Merion’s third hole.
As seen above, Mickelson was none too pleased after making a double bogey Sunday on the stout par-three, which played 274 yards. Into the wind.
“274? That’s terrible. Can’t even reach it,” he groused as he walked off the fourth tee.
His gripe was directed at USGA executive director Mike Davis, who was standing nearby, but NBC microphones picked up the complaint, which quickly became part of the post-mortem of yet another Open that landed Mickelson in second place -- his sixth runner-up finish in the event. Davis talked about Mickelson's comment in the media center Sunday evening.
Q. Phil expressed his displeasure about the third hole setup. How do you feel with the way the wind was coming and did you feel like you got that one right?
MIKE DAVIS: Well, let me start out by Phil is a class act. He was nothing but complimentary week from the standpoint of he embraced this golf course, which is great. He saw all the architecture when he played the third hole today. We set the golf course up today for a south wind. So you saw us move tee markers up. For instance, if you're playing the 18th hole, you're dead into what would be a south wind. So that's how we set it up. That's why we didn't go to the back tees. When we got to the third hole, we were really getting a westerly even a northwesterly wind. So it played long. It played longer than we would have ‑‑ but having said that, it was a back hole location that was the most receptive on the green, we felt that it could handle 3‑wood shots, if need be. So anyway, I mean, he mentioned that he thought it was too long. That's fine. We wouldn't have put the tee markers back where we did had we known we were going to get that wind. But he was terrific and to be a six‑time runner‑up in the National Open Championship is‑‑ well, it's not only a record, but it's a, he's a very classy about it.
A reporter asked Mickelson about his comment after his round and Mickelson had a more measured response than the one picked up by NBC.
Q. After the third hole it looked like you said something to Mike Davis after the double bogey and after the fourth tee shot. Did you think the setup was fair today?
PHIL MICKELSON: I thought it was a great setup all week. I thought that the golf course was fabulous. We had weather and we had some conditions with Sunday pins, it was difficult. But I thought that it was really well done and, you know, it was‑‑ I loved having the hard holes be really hard. And I loved having chances on the birdie holes.
Fair or unfair course, setups are the same for everyone. Mickelson played the third three over for the week. Justin Rose played it one over. A two-shot differential The same margin as his winning spread.
Woulda coulda shoulda anyone? Here's Phil's Sunday press conference: