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Mickelson misses key putts and the cut

Mickelson misses the cut for the first time in 31 majors since the 1999 British Open, the longest active streak on the tour.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2007 19:53 IST

No 72nd hole collapse for Phil Mickelson at this year's US Open. No 72nd hole for Phil Mickelson, period.

Mickelson and his bad wrist were dumped out of the Open by Angel Cabrera's birdie on his last hole late Friday. He missed the cut for the first time in 31 majors since the 1999 British Open, the longest active streak on the tour.

"No, no, no. I didn't knock Mickelson. Mickelson knocked out himself," Cabrera said. "He shot 11 over par." For all the fears about his aching wrist and what that thick, black brace more suited for tenpin bowling than birdies would do to his game, it was his putting that really hurt Mickelson on Friday. During a four-hole swing where he dropped six strokes, he had a three-putt followed by a four-putt.

He finished with a 77 that left him with a 36-hole total of 151, one shot over the cut line. At 10-over 150, the cut equaled the Open's highest in relation to par, set at Bethpage in 2002. It was 9 over last year at Winged Foot.

"I felt I had made a great move early in the round if I just kind of made a couple bogeys and didn't do too much damage," Mickelson said. "But (Nos.) 7 through 10 did me in. Six-over in those four holes - take six shots out and I'm right there at 5 over."

Mickelson returned to San Diego on Friday night to have the wrist examined.

Mickelson wasn't the only big name to have his weekend free up. Colin Montgomerie, who had a spectacular flameout of his own last year, finished at 18-over 158. Two-time winner Retief Goosen, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia also went home early.

"I was thinking about my game, so I wasn't thinking about who was not going to be here on the weekend," Cabrera said. "I'm sorry for all of the guys that are left out."

But Mickelson saw this coming. When someone asked him after his round about making the cut, he looked incredulous. "That would be pretty unbelievable if 11 over was the top half of the field," he said. "I can't buy that. I don't think so." That Mickelson's cut streak ended at the US Open of all places is oh, so appropriate.

He craves this title, but the Open has shown him nothing but cruelty. Four times he's been runner-up, usually the victim of bad luck or bad timing. Last year, of course, was all on Mickelson, a collapse of Normanesque proportions.

Needing only to make par on the 18th hole on Sunday, he pulled out his driver - never mind that he'd hit only two fairways the entire round - and overcut it. The ball clattered through trees before landing in trampled rough. Instead of playing it safe and punching out, he went for the green - and hit another tree.

His third shot found a plugged lie in a bunker, burying his US Open title hopes right along with it. Instead of kissing the silver trophy, he tied for second with Montgomerie and Jim Furyk. This year, his bad Open karma kicked in before he had even hit a shot.

Practicing at Oakmont Country Club three weeks ago, he injured his left wrist while chipping out of rough around the green. The inflammation hurt so badly he withdrew from The Memorial and didn't play a full practice round before teeing off on Thursday.

A thick black brace kept the pain in check, but he fiddled with it endlessly throughout his two rounds. Wrap on, wrap off. Wrap on, wrap off.

"It'll be fine," he said. "It's sore, but it'll be fine." Now it should. He has a few extra days to rest it.

ht epaper

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