A little-known matchplay rule saw the American team lose a hole twice during a dramatic second day at the 2015 Presidents Cup.
The Internationals rallied back to within one point of the Americans on day two of the Presidents Cup but the major talking point was the rules indiscretion by Phil Mickelson which resulted in his team losing the hole twice.
Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson were paired against the Australian duo of Jason Day and Adam Scott for their fourball match on Friday. When they arrived at the 560 yard par-5 7th hole at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Korea, the match was all-square.
When Day putted out for birdie winning the hole for the Internationals, they were now 2up. So how did the Americans lose the hole twice?
On the tee Mickelson decided to play a different golf ball which would hopefully give him a little extra yardage to try and make the green in two shots. The problem is that this is against the rules in Presidents Cup golf fourball which abides by a ‘one ball rule’. This means you must play the same make and model golf ball you started the round with.
But things got confusing when Mickelson asked whether what he had just done was against the rules.
“I used a firmer Callaway that would go a little bit longer and try to get there in two,” said Mickelson after his round. “Didn’t really think much about it. But I was talking with Jay (Haas, US captain), and I just thought, ‘Gosh, I’m going to ask. I’m sure it’s not an issue’.
“Turned out it was an issue. Obviously as a player, you need to know that. You need to know the rules.”
The penalty for this rules indiscretion is not disqualification from the hole, or even a ‘loss of hole’ for his team but ‘a hole deduction’. This means that at the conclusion of the hole, the score is adjusted by one hole. So after Day made his hole-winning birdie, the Internationals went 1up. It was then set to 2up after Mickelson was penalised one-hole.
— Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) October 9, 2015
The other major talking point about all this was that Mickelson was told he was out of the hole and told to pick up his ball, when in fact he could of continued playing and try to match Day’s birdie.
“The weird thing was I’ve never heard of a match adjustment penalty,” Mickelson said later. “I just thought I pick up, put the right ball in play the next hole. But obviously that was not what happened.”
Mickelson was almost no chance of making a birdie when he picked up his golf ball but the ruling clearly riled the Americans.
Mickelson would go on to do this five holes later, and he and Johnson went on to halve the match.