Phil Mickelson was disappointed, sure, but also admitted to some real struggles before he departed Winged Foot Golf Club on Friday after rounds of 79-74 left him well outside the cut line in his 29th U.S. Open start.
Mickelson came into Friday needing to make some magic to have any chance of qualifying for the weekend on the West Course. Just like in Thursday’s opening round, he started out well, converting a 13-footer for birdie on his second hole, the par-4 11th. But he bogeyed the par-5 12th, then made eight consecutive pars before registering four bogeys in his last seven holes, including on the par-5 ninth, which is playing as the easiest hole on the course.
“I enjoyed the week and I enjoyed the challenge that this golf course provides,” said Mickelson. “It’s always one of the hardest tests that we play, but one of the most fun challenges, because of the… gosh, the character of the course all throughout, from shot-making to putting and short game. I’m disappointed I didn’t play better.”
Mickelson hit only six fairways out of 28, which ranked near the bottom of the field, and he hopes to sort things out in the next few weeks at home.
“I find that I’ve been playing very well at home,” Mickelson said. “But I get out here where the penalty for a mis-hit is severe, and I find myself getting a little tight and a little steer-y, and playing some of my worst golf. And that’s something I’ve got to work on and fix. When I go back home, I don’t have the stress and I seem to play just fine, but I’ve got to be able to bring it out here under these conditions.”
Mickelson turned 50 in June and won in his PGA Tour Champions debut last month at the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National, tying the Tour 54-hole record of 191. He isn’t sure when or where he will make his next start. As for Winged Foot, he was still glad he came to the site of his fourth of six runner-up finishes and perhaps his toughest U.S. Open setback, in 2006, when he double-bogeyed the 72nd hole to lose by a stroke to Geoff Ogilvy.
“It’s fun for me to come back here,” said Mickelson. “I love the people here and I’m sorry they weren’t able to come out to the tournament. But I think it’s one of the best golf courses that we play and play majors on and it was fun for me to compete here one more time.”