LUSS Scotland – Phil Mickelson’s latest chance to go to No. 1 in the world ended like his first opportunity two months ago – he missed the cut Friday in the Scottish Open.
Mickelson hit three tee shots on the 18th hole midway through his second round on his way to a quintuple-bogey 9. He never got those shots back in his round of 3-over 74, missing the cut by one shot.
The top 65 and ties make the cut on the European Tour. Mickelson might look back to his decision to hit a third tee shot on the 18th before realizing he could have played the second drive. That might have been the difference in playing the weekend at Loch Lomond.
The alternative is not awful. Mickelson now has the weekend to practice at St. Andrews for the British Open.
“It wasn’t too bad of a day except for two swings,” Mickelson said. “Those four penalty strokes hurt the round quite a bit.”
This was the fifth straight tournament that Mickelson had a chance to replace Tiger Woods atop the world ranking by winning. He only needed second place this week in the Scottish Open.
His first opportunity came at the Colonial in May, where he also missed the cut.
Mickelson will get yet another next week at St. Andrews, although it’s hard to gauge where his game is. If there was a bright side to a dreary day of rain at Loch Lomond, Mickelson at least knows what he needs to work on.
“The driver, to me, was one club that wasn’t the best,” he said.
It certainly cost him on the 18th hole, which has water all the way down the left side of the hole. Mickelson hit his first drive into the water, then teed up another ball. This one had a slightly better chance, but failed to clear the hazard.
“The club felt like it slipped a little bit on the first one,” he said. “The second one felt better. I had to take 3-wood out and aim to the right on the third.”
Once he got down the fairway, Mickelson realized his second ball was plugged near the bank and could be played from the hazard, even if he could only hack a wedge to the fairway. By then, it was a moot point. Mickelson did not declare his third tee shot to be a provision, nor could be – a provisional is only for a lost ball or for out-of-bounds, not for one in a hazard.
His only option would have been to see the ball first, and “I didn’t want to walk 300 yards up and 300 yards back.”
That wasn’t his last mistake of the day. Mickelson hit another tee shot on the par-5 sixth that was so far left it cleared one hazard and was deep in the weeds. It was plugged, and he was surprised a fan could find it. From there, he hacked out, hit 3-wood into the gallery and made an 18-footer to save par.
But after making a 9, pars weren’t enough.
Mickelson did not get over to St. Andrews earlier in the week as planned because his arrival was delayed. He said he would go to the Old Course the next two days.
As for wasting another shot at going to No. 1 in the world?
“I haven’t thought about that,” Mickelson said. “I’m trying to get ready for the British Open and get my game sharp. And these first two days gave me the opportunity to see where it needs some work.”