If you mess with the bull, you're going to get the horns and Phil Mickelson just delivered a double-barrel "up-yours" to the PGA Tour.
On a hot Sunday at Muirfield Village during the final round of The Memorial Tournament, the PGA Tour set the course up for players to fail. The rough was thick. The greens were lightning fast. The wind was blowing. And then the tour tucked the pins away three paces from danger for the final round.
This is not normal on the PGA Tour and led to a damn-near impossible round of golf. Four players shot in the 80s. Five others shot a 79. There was no room for error out there and Mickelson wasn't having it. The first sign of protest was him purposefully placing his coffee mug close by when he putted, thus getting some free advertising.
Then he kicked things up a notch by putting from 78-yards out. That's a clear message that this green was unreceptive to chip shots, which Mickelson is the master of. Putting didn't go well either.
But the moment I knew Mickelson was really trying to deliver a message was when he laid up on the 173-yard, par-3 16th hole, hitting it 144 yards into the fairway in front of the green. This was another shot directly at the PGA Tour about the set up.
This isn't the first time Mickelson staged a protest while on the course. If you recall, during the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock, Mickelson hit a putt while the ball was still moving. Like this tournament, the pin placement on that hole combined with the speed of the greens made it nearly impossible for players. Mickelson let the USGA know that with this move.
That's Phil. He's rich, has won everything (outside of the U.S. Open) he wanted to in his career and, at this point, couldn't care less about offending anyone. You really can't blame him here either. While The Memorial is a prestigious event, these guys don't want to grind during a tour event with no fans around. This isn't a major championship, where tough conditions are acceptable. It's a regular tournament being played in the midst of a pandemic. But the PGA Tour wanted to challenge the players for whatever reason and Mickelson reminded them of what happens when you challenge him in a way he doesn't like.
Horns, meet butt.