LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — Phil Mickelson left the British Open perplexed about the state of his game. More surprising is he left on Friday.
The four-time major champion hit into bunkers and into the high grass. He hit a spectator and nearly drilled a photographer who was crouched in the line of his shot about 20 yards away. He wound up with 8-over 78 and at 11-over 151 missed the cut in a major for the first in five years, dating to the British Open at Carnoustie in 2007.
His 18 straight cuts in the majors had been the longest current streak.
"I don't know what to say," Mickelson said, a phrase he repeated a half-dozen times in an interview that ended when there was really nothing left to ask.
Most aggravating for him is that he doesn't feel that far off.
He worked on his ball position with swing coach Butch Harmon on Thursday after opening with 73 and was hopeful of turning it around.
A capsule of his day: At No. 7 he pushed his drive to the left and beaned a spectator. With a reasonable lie, three photographers tried to capture the shot. Instead of asking them to move, Mickelson ignored them and his shot went about 3 feet over one photographer's head.
"I'll work with Butch this week and see if I can get some direction in my play and see if I can get myself into a better frame of mind heading into these next two months, because we've got some big tournaments coming up," he said.
speaking of beaned spectators … : Rory McIlroy bought a hotel room and gave some spending money to the 16-year-old who was hit in the head by his errant tee shot Thursday. The teenager watched Friday as McIlroy hurt only himself. He took two shots to get out of a bunker on the par-3 ninth for double bogey, had to play sideways out of a water-filled bunker on the 17th and wound up with 75 to fall 12 shots behind. "I wasn't committing to my tee shots," McIlroy said.
easy for him to say: Tiger Woods got one of the biggest cheers of the day when he holed out from a greenside bunker on No. 18 with a shot that rolled into the cup for his second straight 67 and 6-under 134, four shots off the lead. "It wasn't as hard as it may have looked," Woods said of the shot. "Because I was on the upslope, I could take out that steepness coming off the bunker and land the ball on the flat. So (I) just threw it up there, and I played about a cup outside the left, and it landed on my spot and rolled to the right."
more water hazards: After a summer of endless rain in England that pushed the water table to its limit, only about a half-inch of rain overnight was needed to fill the bottom of the course's 206 bunkers and turn dozens of them into small ponds. Crews were using squeegees in the morning just to allow spectators to walk onto the grounds. Players still had to tiptoe around puddles in the fairways. Otherwise, the course was in reasonable condition, courtesy of the links soil that drains well.
history lesson: Tom Watson, 62, who extended his record as the oldest man to play on the weekend since the British Open went to a 36-hole cut, won his first Open (1975) before any of the first four players on the leaderboard were born.