Mickelson critical of overzealous & inconsiderate mobile phone users

Bernie McGuire
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Phil Mickelson (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson ended his opening round of the U.S. Open highly critical of overzealous and inconsiderate mobile phone users at Torrey Pines.

The six-time major winning Mickelson posted a disappointing four-over par 75 in yet another quest to win the one major, the now 51-year-old so desperately seeks. Though Mickelson’s first round, and those of many other competitors, was not helped by fans clearly distracting players in taking photographs and video clips ,and as diplomatic as Mickelson strives to be in such circumstances, there was no hiding his frustration.

“It’s part of the — it’s like part of professional golf,” he said. “You have to learn to deal with it. I don’t understand why you just can’t turn that little button on the side into silent mode.

“I probably didn’t deal with it internally as well as I could have or as well as I needed to. It’s part of playing the game out here at this level. Certainly, I didn’t do the best job of dealing with it.”

The problem with mobile phones is exacerbated when a player’s shot veers off line in the direction of spectators. We’ve seen it everywhere from a U.S. Open, the Open Championship and at each and every regular weekly Tour stop. It’s like a bell ringing for fans to rush to the spot where an errant shot has landed and form a semi-circle behind the ball to be ready, and more often in the States without consideration to the players, to get the next shot on their mobile phone.

This was no more evident after Mickelson’s second shot at the par-5 13th, the fourth hole of his opening round where his ball veered way left and into the trees before being forced to take an ‘unplayable’ penalty. The fans rushed to the spot and even before Mickelson had played his third shot, both he and his caddying brother were calling on fans to put away their phones.

“Yeah, it’s the video ding. They just kept going off,” said Mickelson. “Look, they did it the next three or four shots thereafter, too, so it’s not like that’s the first time, it’s just that you had to ask three times.

“Again, it’s part of the game. It’s part of professional golf. You have to be able to let that go and not let it get to you and be able to kind of compose yourself and regather your thoughts and so forth, but they certainly didn’t do me any favours, either.”

Mickelson’s not wrong in declaring mobile phones are a big part of professional golf with Tiger Woods once remarking fans no longer applaud good shots by the long traditional means of clapping with their hands as they’re now more focussed trying to get a photograph or a video clip.

Xander Schauffele posted a two-under par 69 and he was asked his views on the disturbance being created by mobile phones; the American a little more sympathetic given fans are only just returning to tournaments following the Covid-19 related lockdown.

“Oh, yeah, I had one go off right in my downswing on 14,” he said. “Fortunately, I kind of just sacked up and hit the shot and was laughing shortly after. If that ball was going left, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be smiling.

“I think we’ll give the fans a little break. They haven’t been out in a while either, but if they could silence their phones and the photos and everything, that would be great for us.”

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