Rory McIlroy thought some of the reaction to Phil Mickelson's unique putt in the third round of the 2018 U.S. Open went a bit overboard and didn't view Mickelson's bending of the rules as an affront to the game.
"I saw what happened (after practice), and honestly, I laughed," McIlroy said, per USA Today's William S. Paxton. "I felt there was a massive overreaction to it. Knowing Phil, he knew what he was doing, and as a player who has been in that head space before in a tournament, I can see it happening."
Mickelson received a two-stroke penalty on the 13th hole of his third round after he struck a moving ball on the green:
Mickelson later told reporters he worried his putt was going to roll off the green entirely, so he determined a two-stroke penalty would be a preferable outcome.
Many wondered whether the infraction warranted Mickelson's disqualification from the tournament. The USGA clarified matters, explaining he struck the ball in a natural manner "as opposed to another act to deflect or stop the ball in motion."
The outcry was so extreme Mickelson's wife Amy later said he spoke to USGA executive director Mike Davis about voluntarily withdrawing so as to avoid drawing any more attention to the situation.
Ultimately, Mickelson's out-of-the-box tactic didn't have any effect on the outcome of the tournament. Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open, finishing a shot ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, while Mickelson tied for 48th at 16 over.