Mickelson Misses Key Putts Then the Cut

By Associated PressJune 15, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- No 72nd hole collapse for Phil Mickelson at this year's U.S. Open. No 72nd hole for Phil Mickelson, period.
 
Lefty and his bum wrist were dumped out of the Open by Angel Cabrera's birdie on his last hole late Friday afternoon. It's the first time in 31 majors he's missed the cut, going back to the 1999 PGA Championship, the longest active streak on the tour.
 
'No, no, no. I didn't knock Mickelson. Mickelson knocked out himself,' Cabrera said. 'He shot 11 over par.'
 
For all the fears about his aching wrist and what that thick, black brace more suited for bowling than birdies would do to his game, it was his putting that really hurt Mickelson on Friday. During a four-hole swing where he dropped six strokes, he had a three-putt followed by a four-putt.
 
He finished with a 77 that left him with a 36-hole total of 151, one shot over the cut line. At 10-over 150, the cut equaled the Open's highest in relation to par, set at Bethpage in 2002. It was 9 over last year at Winged Foot.
 
'I felt I had made a great move early in the round if I just kind of made a couple bogeys and didn't do too much damage,' Mickelson said. 'But (Nos.) 7 through 10 did me in. Six-over in those four holes -- take six shots out and I'm right there at 5 over.'
 
Mickelson wasn't the only big name to have his weekend free up. Colin Montgomerie, who had a spectacular flameout of his own last year, finished at 18-over 158. Two-time winner Retief Goosen, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia also went home early.
 
'I was thinking about my game, so I wasn't thinking about who was not going to be here on the weekend,' Cabrera said. 'I'm sorry for all of the guys that are left out.'
 
But Mickelson saw this coming. When someone asked him after his round about making the cut, he looked incredulous.
 
'That would be pretty unbelievable if 11 over was the top half of the field,' he said. 'I can't buy that. I don't think so.'
 
That Mickelson's cut streak ended at the U.S. Open of all places is oh, so appropriate.
 
He craves this title, but the Open has shown him nothing but cruelty. Four times he's been runner-up, usually the victim of bad luck or bad timing. Last year, of course, was all on Mickelson, a collapse of Normanesque proportions.
 
Needing only to make par on the 18th hole on Sunday, he pulled out his driver -- never mind that he'd hit only two fairways the entire round -- and overcut it. The ball clattered through trees before landing in trampled rough. Instead of playing it safe and punching out, he went for the green -- and hit another tree. His third shot found a plugged lie in a bunker, burying his U.S. Open title hopes right along with it. Instead of kissing the silver trophy, he tied for second with Montgomerie and Jim Furyk.
 
This year, his bad Open karma kicked in before he had even hit a shot. Practicing at Oakmont Country Club on Memorial Day weekend, he injured his left wrist while chipping out of rough around the green. The inflammation hurt so badly he withdrew from The Memorial and didn't play a full practice round before teeing off Thursday.
 
A thick black brace kept the pain in check, but he fiddled with it endlessly throughout his two rounds. Wrap on, wrap off. Wrap on, wrap off.
 
'It'll be fine,' he said. 'It's sore, but it'll be fine.'
 
Now it should. He has a few extra days to rest it.
 
The wrist injury meant Mickelson arrived at Oakmont with lowered expectations. But his 74 Thursday was a respectable score at the beastly course. When he ran off two birdies in his first six holes Friday morning, he looked like he might actually work himself into contention.
 
Then his round fell apart.
 
His second shot on the par-4 No. 7 flew from rough into a fescue-filled ditch, a hazard. As the ball disappeared into the weeds, Mickelson took off his cap and slapped it against his leg in disgust. A two-putt left him with a double bogey.
 
'The double hurt, but you're going to make that. That wasn't that big of a deal,' he said. 'I thought 7, 8, 9, 10, that's the stretch if I play them 2 over, it's not going to kill me. If I could par the next three, I'll be all right.'
 
Not even close.
 
He was in the trap off the tee on No. 8 and two-putted for a bogey. He ran a 60-footer for birdie past the hole and onto the fringe on No. 9, and his chip shot landed 3 feet short.
 
Then came a four-putt double on 10. He only needed a 6-footer to save par, but it broke too much and snaked 8 feet past the hole. His second effort banged off the back of the cup. By the time he got the ball in the hole, he'd lost six strokes in four holes.
 
'That stretch,' he said, 'did me in.'
 
The rest of his back nine didn't help.
 
His tee shot on the par-3 13th landed on the fringe, and he opted for a flop shot. But he took almost a full swing, and the ball skipped about 18 feet past the hole. As the crowd gasped, Mickelson kicked at the grass. His par putt missed by 2 feet.
 
He made a nice birdie on 14, outdriving Furyk and Adam Scott by at least 30 yards and knocking his approach shot to 3 feet. But he backed right up on 15, dumping his tee shot in the rough and finding sand on his second shot.
 
He closed with bogeys on three of his last four holes.
 
'It's disappointing to dream as a kid about winning the U.S. Open and spend all this time getting ready for it and have the course setup injure you,' he said. 'You're trying to win and hit great shots, but you're also trying to not end your career on one shot, or at least suspend it for a while.'
 
Asked what he planned to do while he waited to see if he made the cut, Mickelson didn't hesitate.
 
'Go watch the carnage on TV,' he said.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.