AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson was not willing to talk about the Lexi Thompson rules violation controversy that occurred Sunday, costing her a victory in a major championship.
Then he did anyway.
The three-time Masters champion at first said he didn't want his answer about Thompson to be directly in response to her situation at the ANA Inspiration tournament on Sunday, where she received a 2-stroke penalty for not properly marking her ball a day earlier, then another 2 strokes for signing an incorrect scorecard.
But after saying generally at Augusta National on Tuesday that players are too "loose" with marking their golf balls, he said Thompson should "be given the trophy" that went to South Korea's So Yeon Ryu.
"To have a tournament be decided like that, with all the scenarios going around, as far as viewers calling in, as far as it being a 1-foot putt with really no advantage, just a little bit of loose marking, if you will, something that happens all the time, intentionally and unintentionally. ... I think it should be reversed. I think she should be given the trophy," Mickelson said.
Thompson, 22, managed to get into a playoff despite the 4-stroke setback, then lost in sudden death to Ryu.
Earlier in the round, Thompson had been informed that a television viewer had emailed the LPGA Tour with information that she had not returned her ball to the proper spot after marking it on the 17th green Saturday.
Thompson had stood to the side, quickly marked her ball and then replaced it and putted out.
Because the violation was not discovered before she signed her scorecard, she was assessed the 2-stroke penalty for the improper mark, plus she received 2 strokes for the scorecard infraction. Prior to 2016, an incorrect scorecard would have resulted in disqualification.
"I know a number of guys on (the PGA Tour) that are loose with how they mark the ball and have not been called on it," Mickelson said. "They will move the ball two, three inches in front of their mark, and this is an intentional way to get it out of any type of impression and so forth and I think that kind of stuff needs to stop.
"But I think it should be handled within the tour. I think that the tour should go to those players and say, 'Look, we've noticed you've been a little lax in how precise you've been in marking the ball. We'd like you to be a little bit better at it,' and see if that doesn't just kind of fix the thing.
"Because we've all marked the ball imprecisely, especially when you're standing on the side of the ball like she was and not directly behind the ball, in line with the hole, where it's easy to draw a line.
"And I think that that should have been handled within the LPGA saying, 'Hey, look, you're a little lax in how you're marking the ball. You need to be careful. Here's a warning and let's go from there.'"
When asked about the situation again later, Mickelson wanted to make clear he wasn't speaking about Thompson directly.
"I feel like we've all kind of been a little lax at times in the markings of our golf ball and I hate to see it cost somebody a major championship because of that," he said. "But yet I would like to see that type of nuance of the game improved on both tours, especially ours. So I'm not really trying to comment on that specific situation, even though it's what brought this to the forefront."
Mickelson, 46, is playing in his 25th Masters. If he were to win, he would move past Jack Nicklaus as the oldest winner of the tournament.