Phil Mickelson created one of the more bizarre moments in US Open history when he stunned fans by hitting a moving ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Saturday.
Such an offence incurs a two-shot penalty and Mickelson ended up taking a ten and signing for an 81, with theories abound over the final five holes about the reasoning for his uncharacteristic approach.
Some even speculated that it may have been a protest over the difficult course conditions but when interviewed after his round, the five-time Major winner revealed he was simply trying to take advantage of the rules.
The six-time runner-up at the year's second Major Championship was already four over for his round stood on the tee at the par four and needed four attempts to get onto the green before he stood over his first putt.
His 18-footer for par missed on the low side and with the ball seemingly heading back to where Mickelson had just chipped from, the American ran around the hole and hit it back up towards the cup before it had stopped.
“I don't mean disrespect to anybody,” he said. “I know it's a two-shot penalty. At that time, I just didn't feel like going back and forth and hitting the same shot over. I took the two-shot penalty and moved on, it's my understanding of the rules. I've had multiple times where I've wanted to do that, I just finally did.
“It was going to go down in the same spot behind the bunker, I wasn't going to have a shot, I don't know if I was able to save a shot or not.
“I know it's a two-shot penalty hitting a moving ball. I tried to hit it as close as I could on the next one and you take the two shots and move on.
“It's meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can. In that situation, I was just going back and forth. I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.
“I don't mean it in any disrespect and if that's the way people took it, I apologise to them. But that's not the way it was taken. I took the two-shot penalty, moved on, and there's not much more to say.”
Mickelson – celebrating his 48th birthday on Saturday – was playing alongside Andrew Johnston with the pair seemingly enjoying the attention from the galleries despite both enduring tough days up until the controversial incident.
Beef is renowned for his laid-back attitude and admitted he could only laugh after he saw Mickelson make his dash down the green.
“It's just one of the mad moments, really,” he said. “We were both obviously really struggling.
“It wasn't a thing of saying, 'I've had enough' or this and that. It just happened.
“I said, 'that's one of the strangest things I've ever seen' and then just started laughing, to be honest. I said, 'I'm sorry, but I've got to laugh at this'.
“He just laughed with me. He just looked at me and just laughed. We just laughed at it. He had no words to say what he did. It was just one of the moments where he was just like, 'I have nothing to say about it'.
“It's nothing disrespectful to me or to the US Open or anything. It's just one of them things that just happened.”