Golfer Phil Mickelson sent a text message to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem from the sixth fairway during the first round of the Memorial at Muirfield Village complaining about patrons’ use of cell phones during the tournament, reports ESPN.
After a 79 in the opening round, Mickelson withdrew from the tournament, reportedly due to fans on the course constantly using their cell phones to take pictures of the players. Mickelson’s playing partners during the round, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, claimed the use of cell phone cameras contributed to Mickelson’s poor play and decision to withdraw.
“Phil’s a great player and a great champion, and it just took him out of his game. It’s sad. It’s sad that cell phones can make or break a championship,” said Watson.
Fans at PGA Tour events are allowed to use cell phones as long as they are on vibrate mode and only used in certain areas.
According to the PGA rule, fans are not supposed to use phones to take pictures during competition, but it is difficult to prevent the practice once fans have their phones inside the gates.
Police confiscated more than 150 phones at the tournament the day following Mickelson’s withdrawal.
In the increasingly digital age, the tour must allow patrons to bring their phones or risk fans not bothering to come at all.