SOUTHPORT, July 21 (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson shrugged off the disappointment of missing the cut for the first time at the Royal Birkdale course where he made his British Open debut in 1991.
The 47-year-old American posted a 77 on Friday, which left him 10-over-par after his first-round 73 and heading home for the first time in four outings at Southport.
But Mickelson joked he had at least missed the cut “with flair” as he became another big-name casualty of swirling wind and biting cold on England’s north-west coast.
“You know, it’s just one of those things where if it starts going bad in these conditions, it’s just going to go bad. It’s not that big a deal. Unfortunately it’s the first cut I’ve missed this year and I missed it with flair,” he said.
His early departure was disappointing for the crowd expecting more derring-do from last year’s runner-up, who lost out after an epic duel with Henrik Stenson.
But Mickelson has not won a tournament since 2013, when he tamed Muirfield to take his only British Open title, and earlier this year ended his long relationship with caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, who was replaced by Mickelson’s brother Tim at Birkdale.
“What Tim did was kept it fun,” said Mickelson. “And we made the best of it. We all go through days like this. And it’s part of the game. I don’t want to put too much stock in it, because I’ve really been hitting the ball well and playing well.”
Mickelson blamed poor preparation for his disappointing showing. “I think playing a week before at the Scottish (Open) is very helpful, and it may have made a difference,” he said.
“This further proves that when I don’t play the week before a major, I oftentimes am not as sharp and ready to play as I need to be.” (Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)