PARAMUS, N.J. – Phil Mickelson is sticking to his vegetarian diet.
Which doesn’t mean he won’t sink his teeth into meaty affairs relating to the PGA Tour.
Hours after he felt compatriot Jim Furyk was unreasonably disqualified from this week's event for missing his pro-am tee time on Wednesday morning, Mickelson launched into an thorough criticism of the rule on the eve of The Barclays at Ridgewood County Club.
Mickelson, whose objections about the rule prompted some off-season modifications, thought he had succeeded in getting the DQ provision rescinded for those who miss their times.
He learned when Furyk was benched that he was mistaken. A total of 54 players in what was originally a 125-man field were in the pro-am field, which stands at the crux of Mickelson’s beef.
“The rule itself applies to only half the field,” he said. “So if you're going to have a rule that does not apply to everybody, because not everybody played the pro-am, you cannot have it affect the competition.
“It's got to be a different penalty. It can't be disqualification if it only applies to half the field. So this rule, it's not protecting the players, it's not protecting the sponsors. It applies to only half the field and yet it affects the integrity of the competition.
“I cannot disagree with it more. I have no idea how the commissioner let this rule go through. It's ridiculous.”
It’s hard to dispute his points.
Players such as John Daly at Bay Hill and Retief Goosen at Riviera have been disqualified in the past for missing their appointed pro-am time slot.
The pro-am rule is six years old and Mickelson has been trying to force a revision ever since. Over lunch after his pro-am round Wednesday, he gave dining partner Tim Finchem, the tour commissioner, another earful on the topic.
“I made my viewpoint very clear to him, yes,” he said.
Mickelson cracked that he is 1-for-22 in the policy proposals he has pitched to Finchem for consideration. Ironically, his lone “win” related to the pro-am DQ policy. This year, with certain restrictions, players have been allowed to make appearances at golf clinics, sponsor dinners or meet-and-greet sessions in lieu of playing the pro-ams.
“I went 1-for-22 recently with what I thought was the pro-am modification this year where we're able to opt out of one or two pro-ams, but change it with a dinner or a stop by the hospitality tent,” he said. “I thought that that also included if you missed your tee time you were able to make it up by going to the hospitality tent Thursday or Friday.
“Which is why I was so shocked that he [Furyk] ended up being DQd because I thought that was included in that rule change.”
So maybe it’s 0-for-22?
“That was my one,” he said.
Mickelson said he would support a player fine in the event of a missed tee time and that Furyk should have been allowed to join his group on the second or third hole after he arrived. The battery on Furyk’s cell phone, which he uses as an alarm clock, went dead overnight.
“But either way, the penalty, whether it's fine him or what have you, it cannot affect the competition,” he said. “This is not a competitive round. It's the pro-am and only half the players are playing it. So whatever penalty you have, it cannot affect the tournament when it only applies to half the field. That's just wrong.
“And again, how the commissioner let that slide or get through is ridiculous.”
Since he was on the bully pulpit, Mickelson was asked for his views on the proposed designated tournaments rule, wherein top players will be forced to add an event from a group of preselected, third-tier events with weak fields. He made his position clear even without fessing up. He's not a fan of the proposal.
“Do I support it? I don't know,” he said. “I mean, we'll see what happens. It will be kind of interesting to see how it plays out. But I'm not really a part of the discussion.”
Well, unless you count the ones he’s already had with Finchem.
“No, I have lot to say, but just not publicly yet,” Mickelson added. “I've made sure that he knows my feelings on some of that stuff, yeah. I don't know if it matters, but I know that he knows at least how I feel.”