Phil Mickelson withdrew from the Jack Nicklaus Memorial tournament because of “mental fatigue.”
The Associated Press reported Mickelson (San Diego) also sent a message to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem from the sixth fairway at Muirfield Village suggesting there was not enough enforcement for the rule of no cell phones.
Players had to back off their shots because of fans taking pictures with their phones, according to Mickelson and playing partners Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler.
Could this become an issue at tournaments? Could this become controversy for fans and their experience?
The USGA did its best to eliminate the problem at the U.S. Open. Cell phones were not permitted at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Mike Sweeney, director of rules and competitions, says cell phones are not much of a problem. He said the media is making it more of an issue than it is.
“I went to the PGA tour event at Riviera, and [the phone use] was fine,” Sweeney said while on his cellphone en route to Olympic. “I was happy that they allowed that. It really hasn’t been an issue until Memorial. You know there are so many people who have cellphones. You make the fan experience better with the cellphones and then you see the twitter feeds. It’s all great.”
Sweeney said respective tournament officials and staff need to enforce rules better, especially when it comes to galleries that follow Tiger, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson. The officials can take away the phone if picture-taking or ringing gets out of hand and the fan can pick up the phone at the end of the day, Sweeney said.
“Golf and technology is here to stay and cellphone use is prominent,” Sweeney said. “It can add to the tournament if used properly.”
Dennis Harwood, the SCGA president, said they’ll deal with phone use at their tournaments on a case-by-case basis. Harwood doesn’t see it as a problem. He saw a large gallery for Patrick Cantlay at last year’s SCGA Amateur Championship that Cantlay won, but Harwood said phones were not a problem.
“It’s a valid reason for competition,” Harwood said of prohibiting cellphone use by fans. “For the competition we conduct, we might prohibit cell phones. We’re not going to frisk them. We might ask them to leave or take the phone away.”