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Phil Mickelson walks off the ninth hole after finishing the second round of the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Friday. Mickelson missed the cut.
Friday, July 5, 2013
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - Another trip to the Greenbrier Classic, another early checkout for Phil Mickelson.
Once again disappointing his legion of followers, Mickelson broke par for the first time in five tournament rounds at the Old White TPC on Friday but it wasn't enough to make the 36-hole cut.
Coming off a woeful first-round 74 that topped only 12 participants in the 156-player field, Mickelson carded a 2-under-par 68 that left him with a two-round total of 2-over 142, three shots off the cut line for the low 70 players and ties who survived to play the weekend.
Mickelson, who often comes off like he thinks he's the smartest guy in the house, said afterward that he thinks he knows now why he's struggled mightily on a track where no-names often feast.
It's all about the altitude in the West Virginia mountains, said Mickelson.
"It's my distance control with my irons I haven't figured out," Mickelson said. "We're a couple thousand feet, we've been practicing at sea level, so obviously [the ball] is going to go longer.
"It's the same altitude as Phoenix, but it goes a different yardage and I haven't quite figured it out yet. I posed over a lot of iron shots today and they end up not just a yard or 2 from where I figure, but they're 10 or 12 yards off from where I figure. I think as I look back on these last three years that's been the biggest issue for me is distance control with the irons."
Forget the mountain air. It was some air-headed play by Mickelson that sent him home early again.
Take Thursday's first round. Mickelson cost himself three shots when he jacked his tee shot left of left into a creek, hit a horrible fourth-shot approach on the par-5 17th and then three-putted for a quadruple bogey-8. How bad was that? The 616-yard hole was the easiest hole on the course Thursday.
The left-hander then spent another shot on the 175-yard 18th, one of the easiest holes on tour last year, when he hit his tee shot over the green and made bogey.
Starting on the back side Friday, Mickelson played his first nine holes in 4-under 32. He couldn't maintain the momentum on his final nine, suffering three bogeys with only one birdie in a front-side 2-over 36.
The missed cut marked only the third time in 14 tournaments this season that Mickelson was forced to head home early. He loaded up his wife, Amy, and three children, who have enjoyed all the perks of staying at The Greenbrier Resort the past five days. The golf course hasn't been nearly as hospitable to Mickelson.
Will "Lefty" ever return to the Greenbrier? That's the question now that he's 0-for-3 on making cuts at the Old White.
Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, who has spent millions to bring the PGA Tour stop to West Virginia, confessed Tuesday that he shed some tears when Mickelson squandered a shot to win his first U.S. Open three weeks ago.
Well, the big boss' eyes probably got moist when Mickelson went packing early again for his Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., home.
Face it, Mickelson's presence sold a lot of tournament badges. In a week in which crowds have appeared skimpier than in the first three years, there will be a lot fewer badges on site this weekend, too.
Bubba still hanging
Bubba Watson, the second biggest name in the field, played with Mickelson and defending champion Ted Potter Jr. in a threesome of southpaws.
Watson is hanging for the weekend after a 69 that left him tied for 35th at 137. He blamed an uncooperative putter for his second straight pedestrian-like score.
Thoughts on the round, Bubba?
"Not good," he said. "I hit the ball great again, just made no putts. To share the led or to move up on the leaderboard you've got to make putts, and I'm not making putts."
When asked if he was having trouble reading the soft greens, Watson said: "I'm not very good reading, I guess. I guess I'm illiterate. I just can't get the ball in the hole."
No more concrete
Steven Bowditch, whose previous job before turning pro golfer was as a cement mixer, continued to remain in the stir. The Australian posted a 67 that left him in a five-way tie for second, one shot behind leader Matt Every.
Bowditch, 30, has recorded only one top-10 finish in 91 careers starts on the PGA Tour. His best finish in parts of five seasons on tour is a tie for ninth at the 2011 AT&T in Pebble Beach. His top finish this year is a tie for 29th at the Honda Classic.
Bowditch, who started playing golf at 12 because his father wouldn't let him tackle in a rugby league, now finds himself officially in the hunt for the first time in his big-league career.
"I really haven't put myself in position my whole career so it's going to be a new experience for me," said Bowditch, a two-time Web.com winner. "I've gained a lot of experience but not quite at this level. It's obviously everyone's dream at this level to try and win."
Tom Watson may be 63, but he's still got plenty of game. The eight-time major champion broke par for the second straight day with a 69. He stands at 137, tied with the other Watson, 2012 Masters champ Bubba.
"I hit the ball very, very well and like [Thursday] I missed a lot of putts,'' Watson said. "I three-putted three times and it was kind of an ugly day on the greens."
Meanwhile, Kenny Perry can still play with the youngsters, too. The 53-year-old Perry, who won a Champions Tour major last week, shot 67 and stands tied for 17th at 135.
"My game's still good enough to compete out here," Perry said. "I don't know if I would win on a regular basis like I could in the past, but I still feel like I hit it far enough, I still putt well enough, so to me that gives me a lot of confidence and it makes it fun when I do come out here and compete because I still think I can compete with them."
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