Rory McIlroy beat Phil Mickelson, but golf’s us-against-them era is just beginning
When he showed up earlier this month for LIV’s opening event outside London, he was bearded and dressed in black, a look he wore to the Country Club this week. And while asking a series of tough questions from journalists at a Monday press conference about taking Saudi money, fans at the Country Club seemed happy to see him, even as he walked around a track he could not compete on.
Mickelson’s second round on Friday was better than his first on Thursday – when he hit three of his first five holes, hit the sixth double and finished 8-over 78 – but that was nowhere near enough to get him to the weekend. After starting with three pars, Mickelson threw off three straight bogeys, and when he mapped his second birdie in the tournament with a long putt from the off green on his 14th hole, he was already double-digit over par. He hit another long putt for birdie on the hole that followed, but it still did not matter.
Mickelson’s lost cut is not exactly a surprise in a tournament where he has had a tortured history. He has finished second in the US Open six times, following only Jack Nicklaus’ seven second places in the British Open in the grand slam doubles. The difference? Nicklaus also won the British Open three times, while the US Open is still the only major to have avoided Mickelson. And in his eight U.S. Open since his last second place in 2013, Mickelson has no finish better than a 28th-place draw, with three losses cut.
Since his exciting run to the 2021 PGA Championship title, when at the age of 50 he became the oldest player to win a major, Mickelson has missed the cut in two of the three majors he has played and finished in a non-competitive 62nd place. in the other. His results on the regular PGA Tour were not much better, and he ended in a 33rd place out of 48 in the first no-cut LIV tournament.
Golf has done so much good – for Phil Mickelson and his friends
Nevertheless, Mickelson’s fame was such that LIV’s Saudi supporters thought it wise to pay him more than $ 200 million just to join the league, which he had promised to make a living by helping pay for the lawyers who signed the contract. He will be the face of the franchise, even though his best year on the field is behind him.
His future in non-LIFE events is less certain. The PGA Tour suspended all players who joined the breakaway circuit, but has no say in who can compete in the golf majors, which are run by external units. As a previous winner of the Masters and PGA Championship, Mickelson has a lifetime pass to these tournaments – provided the Augusta National and PGA of America do not change their rules – and he gets free entry to the British Open as a former champion up to 60 years. In addition, Mickelson has three more years of automatic US Open qualification due to the PGA Championship victory last year.
But apart from that, it seems that Mickelson is determined to spend his golden golf years playing mostly against less competition on a lighter schedule for easy money on the LIV tour.