SOUTHPORT, England A year ago, Phil Mickelson was involved in one of the greatest British Open duels in the tournaments 145-year history.
This year, the 47-year-old Mickelson will not even be around for the weekend, unceremoniously missing the cut with a disappointing two-day total of 10-over par. Mickelson played his first round in 73 without a single birdie, the first time hes done that in an Open round since 1999. He shot 77 Friday.
Unfortunately its the first cut Ive missed this year and I missed it with flair, Mickelson said. I was surprised because I really thought Thursday I was prepared. I felt like I was ready. I thought I had a good game plan. I thought my game was sharp. But obviously it wasnt.
This was Mickelsons 24th career British Open and only the fifth time hes missed the cut. He won in 2013, his last victory of any kind.
It looked promising at times for Mickelson, like when he birdied the first hole Friday to get to 2-under par, well inside the cut line. But a triple-bogey on the third hole derailed his round and he never corralled it in.
Its just one of those things where if it starts going bad in these conditions, its just going to go bad, he said.
Mickelson almost always plays the week before a major, which he didnt this year because the scheduling didnt work out. The last time he played was The Greenbrier three weeks ago. The Scottish Open, which he usually plays the week before, was at Dundonald Links, where he has never played before. Mickelson would not have had enough time to learn that course and prepare for Birkdale. So he opted against playing the Scottish and came to Birkdale early.
I think playing a week before at the Scottish is very helpful, and it may have made a difference, he said. Its hard to say, but this further proves that when I dont play the week before a major, I oftentimes am not as sharp and ready to play as I need to be.
This was Mickelsons first career major championship without caddie Jim Bones Mackay on the bag since the two parted ways a few weeks ago after 25 years together. Mickelsons brother, Tim, is caddying for him now, and this was Tims first major as a caddie.
What Tim did was kept it fun, Mickelson said. We made the best of it. We all go through days like this. And its part of the game. I dont want to put too much stock in it, because Ive really been hitting the ball well and playing well. So rather than dwell on two rough days here, Ill go back home and get ready for these upcoming events.
Ive got this week off and Ill see if I can get it sharp for Akron (the WGC-Bridgestone) and the PGA.