By Cam Huffman
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
Phil Mickelson avoided all the off-the-course entertainment, which can also serve as a distraction, this week in order to improve on his 2011 showing, when he was the biggest name in the tournament but missed the cut and was not around for the weekend.
The change in strategy didn’t help.
Lefty was one of a number of big names that missed the cut Friday after the second round of The Greenbrier Classic.
Mickelson carded a pair of 71s the first two rounds, finishing with a two-day total of 2-over par and missing the cut by three strokes.
“I really enjoy the golf course. I think it’s just a wonderful test, and I have not played very well on it last year and this year,” said the four-time major winner, before admitting his frustration. “I don’t get it. I mean, I certainly struggled a little bit on the greens both years, but nothing that should have led to these scores.
“This is certainly a fun place, and a place that we all enjoy. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out the golf course yet. But I’m going to keep working at it.”
Mickelson wasn’t alone in his frustration. Tiger Woods, who drew huge galleries in his first appearance at the third-year PGA TOUR event, disappointed the fans who were waiting until the weekend to make the trip to Greenbrier County to see the golfing icon in person.
Playing in the same grouping as tournament leader Webb Simpson, Woods couldn’t keep pace. He followed an opening-round 71 with a 69 on Friday and missed the cut, which included 78 players, for the second time this season. Woods needed an ace on No. 18 to stay around, and he put it within eight feet but had to settle for a birdie and fell one shot short.
“I didn’t quite have it,” said Woods, who came into the event ranked No. 1 in FedEx Cup points after winning the AT&T National last week for his third victory of the year. “I drove it really good, and I just did not have a feel for the distances. The ball was just going forever. I know we’re at altitude, but I just couldn’t get the ball to hit pin high, no matter what I did. Subsequently, I made some bogeys.
“It happens, you know. You miss cuts out here. (I’ve been) doing it for a long time, and I think I’ve missed nine cuts or whatever in a couple years.”
Despite the frustration of falling short, Woods didn’t sound like a guy who wouldn’t be returning to the tournament, which was extended through 2021 earlier this week.
“I had a great time,” he said. “The people here have been just fantastic, very excited to have a tournament here. It’s a fun crowd to play in front of. Unfortunately, it’s only for a couple days.”
Jim Furyk is another big name that was eliminated before the action really heated up. The 16-time PGA TOUR winner missed a good look at birdie on the 18th hole that could have kept him around for the weekend. Instead, he finished at even par for the tournament, one stroke off the cut line.
Lucas Glover (+2), the 2009 U.S. Open champion, 2010 Greenbrier Classic champion Stuart Appleby (+3) and fan favorite Boo Weekley (+4) won’t be around either, illustrating just how difficult a test the Old White TPC course can be, even for the game’s best.