Unpredictable Phil misses FBR Open cut
By BILL HUFFMAN
If there is one thing we know about Phil Mickelson by now, it’s that we never really know for sure which “Lefty’’ will show up.
That point was driven home in a big way Friday, when Mickelson missed only his fifth cut in 19 appearances at the FBR Open. But coupled with a missed cut at the 2007 Frys.com Open, which also is held in Scottsdale, that’s three missed cuts in his last four appearances in the Valley including an MC at the 2007 FBR Open.
Perhaps more disturbing for Mickelson, it was the first time in 17 years on the PGA Tour that he had missed the cut in his season debut. And he didn’t just barely miss the magic number of even-par 142, it was more like a mile.
“It just didn’t come together. I just didn’t perform,’’ said Mickelson, a former Arizona State star and Scottsdale resident who opened with a five-over 76 at the TPC Scottsdale and was gone with the wind following a 73 and a fat 7-over total.
“I’ll go home (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) and get some work done over the weekend and see if I can get things on track for San Diego next week.’’
Give Mickelson credit, he always is a gentleman no matter what the score. And he doesn’t get rattled when he falls on his face despite many thinking he was among the heavy favorites this week.
For the most part, he does play well at the TPC Scottsdale, where he has won twice, lost a playoff last year to J.B. Holmes, and has six other top-10 finishes, many that came while he was in contention on past Sundays.
“This will give me a few more days to get my game sharp. Again, it didn’t feel as far off as the score indicated,’’ the 38-year-old Mickelson said of his two days of frustration, in which he had almost as many penalty strokes (four) as birdies (five).
“I feel I hit the ball fairly solid. I just made some errors here and there. So now I’ll have an extra couple of days to get ready for Torrey (Pines), a place that I have grown to love, and hopefully I’ll play well next week.’’
Funny, that was pretty much the scouting report coming into the FBR Open, where Lefty was gunning for his 35th win on the PGA Tour. Making his 2009 season debut here, Mickelson said he was mentally rested, physically robust, and looking forward to the familiar confines of the TPC Scottsdale.
“I’ve had good work the last eight, nine days, working with Butch (Harmon) and (Dave) Pelz, and I feel like I’m as ready as I can be,’’ Mickelson said prior to what turned out to be a huge disappointment. “But again, until I’ve been out playing, I won’t know the status of my game really until I test it on a tournament course like the TPC Scottsdale.’’
Unfortunately, now we know: he’s not quite ready to go. Then again, that could all change by next week considering the diabolical nature of the up-and-down game that has brought Mickelson undying adulation and steadfast fame.
Asked if he remembered what happened the last time he missed the cut here (2007), the big fellow shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “What, me worry?”
For the record, Mickelson won going away the next week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He also did the same thing – win after missing a cut – last season, when he pulled off the unlikely scenario at the Northern Trust in Los Angeles after bombing out eight days prior at Pebble, where he was defending champ.
Yes, when it comes to being completely unpredictable, that’s seemingly when Mickelson is the most predictable.Then again, that’s also the nature of golf.
Just ask the defender Holmes, who also missed the cut badly on Friday. But the difference between Mickelson and Holmes is, we know J.B. won’t win next week in San Diego.
Bill Huffman has covered golf in Arizona for over 20 years for the Arizona Republic and East Valley Tribune as well as writing the book Arizona’s Greatest Golf Courses. He co-hosts Backspin the Golf Show on XTRA Sports 910 AM each Wednesday (6-7pm) and Saturday (9-11am). To reach Bill directly please email him at [email protected] or call 480-540-1780.