Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson stand as two of the greatest golfers of all time, and between them they’ve carved out some of the greatest moments in the game’s history. This weekend at the Open Championship isn’t going to rank among them.
Woods and Mickelson have played in a combined 193 majors. They’ve started the same major 83 times. Between them, they’ve won 20 majors. But until this weekend, they’d never both missed the cut in the same event.
Well, they have now.
Woods bailed out first, shooting a lackadaisical +7 on Thursday that he couldn’t even begin to erase on Friday. He finished the week at +6, five shots over the projected cut of +1.
“That's one of the hardest things to accept as an older athlete is that you're not going to be as consistent as you were at 23,” Woods said after his round. “Things are different. And I'm going to have my hot weeks. I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments. But there are times when I'm just not going to be there.”
Mickelson, at 49, is six years older than Woods, showed up in Northern Ireland boasting that he’d dropped 15 pounds and was looking forward to a good weekend. It didn’t happen; Phil shot five-over on Thursday and followed that up with a +3 round Friday.
Mickelson has now missed 16 cuts in majors over the course of a 30-year career, while Woods has missed 10 ... though seven of those have come since 2014.
It’s tempting to make some sweeping statement about how awful Woods and Mickelson are, and plenty of yowling critics will do exactly that. But it’s worth noting that both have won tournaments this year — Mickelson at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Woods at that little tournament in Augusta — and both, when they’re on, still have the ability to compete, if not dominate. It’ll require a very specific set of circumstances for either one to win on the big stage again — perfect weather, perfect course, Brooks Koepka getting kidnapped — but it’s possible. On the other hand, this probably won’t be the last time they’ll both miss a major cut, either.
Woods, after his round, didn’t seem particularly broken up at missing his second cut of the year.
“I had a long trip to Thailand, and then trying to get ready for this event, to play this event, it's been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around and different hotels and everything,” Woods said. “I just want to go home.”
He’s about to get his wish.
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