Rory McIlroy 'disheartened' after missing cut at PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy 'disheartened' after missing cut at PGA Championship

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Rory McIlroy 'disheartened' after missing cut at PGA Championship

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SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson found themselves in similar predicaments Friday afternoon. Standing in the 18th fairway at Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course, each thought he would need birdie to play the weekend at the 98th PGA Championship.

Both were 2 over, but they took different paths over the first 17 holes to arrive in the same place.

For Mickelson, the round started with a triple-bogey 7 to drop him to 3 over, at the time two shots above the cutline.

Mickelson would call it later “the worst start by any player in the history of the PGA Championship.”

Three birdies over the next 14 holes would get Mickelson back to 1 over and at a cutline that fluctuated from 2 over to 1 over all afternoon.

When Mickelson bogeyed the par-3 16th, he thought that he would need another birdie to make the cut.

Mickelson would need two hybrids to reach the green on the 18th, and then a two-putt from 34 feet would give the left-hander a birdie and his 23rd appearance on the weekend in the PGA Championship after shooting an even-par 70.

“I’m having a difficult time right now managing my expectations, because I know how well I’m playing and I’m so result-oriented that I’m not playing very relaxed, free golf like I did at the British (two weeks ago, when he was runner-up to Henrik Stenson), like I did in the preparation here,” Mickelson said.

He has recorded seven birdies but five bogeys and a triple bogey this week.

Mickelson added that simply making the cut will allow him to scale back his expectations and enjoy the weekend.

“There’s a good chance it probably won’t be enough,” Mickelson said with a smile on his face, “but still it’s fun to play good golf.”

For McIlroy, his weekend will take place somewhere else.

The four-time major winner started outside the cut line after a birdie-free 4-over 74 in Thursday’s first round. Two birdies among the first six holes on Friday gave McIlroy some hope that he finally had figured out Baltusrol’s greens.

Over the next 11 holes, the No. 4 player in the world looked like the best player on the planet tee to green but a 20-handicapper when he got to the putting surfaces. He needed 65 putts and ranked 151st in the strokes gained putting stat this week, McIlroy still had a chance to play on the weekend.

“My tee-to-green game, there’s not much wrong with that,” McIlroy said after missing his first cut in seven career starts at the PGA, which he won in 2012 and ’14, and his second MC in a major this year. “It’s pretty solid. Driving the ball well, hitting good iron shots. I think if you had to give anyone else in this field my tee shots this week, they would have been up near the top of the leaderboard. It just shows you how bad I was around the greens.”

McIlroy’s ticket home for the weekend came after his second shot into the 18th hole found the right greenside rough and the Northern Irishman took three to get on the green before tapping in for a bogey 6 to shoot 1-under 69, but 3 over for the championship and one short of the cutline.

“I’ve hit the ball really well this week and I’m walking away not playing the weekend,” McIlroy said. “It’s really disheartening. As I said, I need to go back to the drawing board and see where we go from here.”

After watching McIlroy’s performance, Mickelson was willing to offer some advice.

“Right now he’s just so tentative through impact,” Mickelson said of McIlroy’s putting woes. “He’s just not confident. You can just tell. You watch him with a driver, and it’s the sweetest thing you can imagine. It just goes through effortlessly, with so much speed and power, and the ball just flies so long and true, with such a tight flight pattern. He’s just not striking his putts with the same confidence as he is his driver.”

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