LA JOLLA, Calif. — He’s hitting bombs. He’s also missing cuts.
For the second straight week, Phil Mickelson will head home early from a tournament near and dear to his heart. A week after missing the cut at the American Express by six, Lefty will miss the weekend at his hometown Farmers Insurance Open after a second-round 74 at Torrey Pines North, the easier of the courses in play this week.
His two-day total of one over was two shots outside the cut line when he signed his scorecard before declining to speak with media—he instead apologized to kids clamoring for his autograph and said he was off to hit balls before his body “locked up,” despite showing no signs of injury. Mickelson’s playing partners, fellow Californians Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele, both finished at even par and were also likely to miss the weekend.
Mickelson has now gone 22 events without a top-10 finish, dating to his victory at last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. His best finish since then is a T18 at the Masters, a barren stretch that has seen him drop all the way to No. 82 in the world rankings, and he’ll likely slide even further after this week.
The 49-year-old has missed seven of his last nine cuts despite picking up four to five miles per hour in swing speed over the past year or so. He is absolutely crushing the ball—that much is beyond debate—but he’s also hitting it in every which direction. Mickelson hit just two of 14 fairways on Friday and hit just seven of 28 for the week, last in the field.
Despite foul ball after foul ball off the tee, Mickelson managed to shoot two-under on his first nine on Friday, the back side of the North, and made the turn within the cut line. But he could not muster another birdie the rest of the round and looked rather annoyed as he trudged to a back-side 39.
Perhaps some time away from the rapid schedule of tour life, some time to work on his game without the pressure of having to post a score, would do Mickelson well right now. But he won’t get any. Quite the opposite, actually—he controversially committed to play in next week’s Saudi International on the European Tour, then he will fly all the way back to the West coast to play the following week at Pebble Beach, where he will defend his title.
That itinerary is nightmarish for any touring professional, let alone one who will be eligible for the senior circuit in June.