Scott Fowler

Phil doesn’t thrill: Mickelson leaves Charlotte, PGA searching for answers

The Quail Hollow golf course won’t have Phil Mickelson to kick around anymore this weekend.

That’s a shame for those who only have weekend tickets to the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, but it was unavoidable given how badly Mickelson played in this tournament.

Phil the Thrill offered no thrills whatsoever to those in Charlotte with rounds of 79 and 74 at the PGA Championship, missing the cut by a mile and looking every bit his age of 47 – if not older. This was Mickelson’s 100th career major, but he won’t remember it fondly.

After his 74 Friday left him at 11-over par for the tournament, Mickelson said he had played “atrocious” golf at both the British Open in July and this week at the PGA. He blamed most of it on his mental state rather than technical aspects of his game.

“It’s not like I’m hitting the ball crooked, I’m just hitting it in the wrong spots,” Mickelson said Friday. “I’m not really controlling my thought process and where I want the ball to go. I’m not real focused out there. I’m having a tough time visualizing the shot. I’m having a tough time controlling my shots and not letting (my mind) wander to what I don’t want to have happen.”

Sounds a little like when I play golf. My internal dialogue on all water holes goes like this: Don’t hit it into the water, don’t hit it into the water... it’s in the water.

Mickelson had made 21 straight cuts at the PGA Championship until Thursday and won it in 2005. His last missed cut in the tournament came in 1995, the same year the Carolina Panthers debuted as an NFL expansion team.

Mickelson said he did not blame his recent parting with longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay for his struggles. “I don’t know how that would really affect the shots,” Mickelson said.

Those shots were hard to watch at times this week. Mickelson has long been a fan favorite at Quail Hollow and usually plays well in the Wells Fargo Championship held in Charlotte. But the same course, as Mickelson pointed out, was made a lot harder for this major tournament and the changes did not seem to suit his game.

“It’s a little different golf course than what we’ve played in the past,” Mickelson said. “One of the reasons I played so well here usually is there’s no rough, and (now) there’s some very severe rough.”

That rough has contributed to a lot of high scores, with the obvious exception of leader Kevin Kisner (whose twin 67s have put him well in front going to the weekend). But few players in Charlotte shot a birdie-free 79, which Mickelson did Thursday in what was a higher score than he had ever posted in 94 previous rounds at a PGA Championship.

“On the range, I'm having some of the best sessions,” Mickelson said. “And yet I'm not controlling my thought process out there.”

After that 79, Mickelson was going to need a really good round Friday to make the cut. He couldn’t get it. Afterward, he was not in a club-breaking frenzy. Instead, he seemed a bit resigned to what had just happened.

Said Mickelson: “It’s not a technical issue. ...I don’t feel like I did two years ago, when I was searching for my game. ...Just not real focused.”

And with that, Mickelson walked toward his car and out of the tournament.