FORT WORTH, Texas - Perhaps what Phil Mickelson needs is Tiger Woods in the field. With Woods off practicing somewhere for next week's Memorial, Mickelson explored the far reaches of Colonial Country Club with a wide variety of errant shots on his way to missing the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, a tournament he has won twice.
What kind of odds do you think you could have gotten on Wednesday if you had said that Mickelson would not qualify to play on the weekend at the Crowne Plaza Invitational while John Daly, the guy without a tour card whose last top-10 was in 2005, and 50- year-old Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin would not only be playing the final 36 holes but be in the hunt?
"I played terribly, I don't know what more to say than that," Mickelson said after rounds of 71 and 73 left him at four over par and well above the cut line. "It's a good barometer for me to know that going into my run-up for the U.S. Open I have a lot of work to do." Pavin, meanwhile was nine under par after 36 holes and Daly was five under. Go figure.
The missed cut puts a slight damper on the Pink Out planned for Saturday at Colonial in which players and fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of the fight against breast cancer, a disease both Phil's wife Amy and mother Mary are fighting. "I won't be there," Mickelson said with apologies. "I'll be home with Amy and the kids but we will all be wearing pink."
Tiger has teed it up at three PGA Tour events so far this year, all of which also had Lefty in the field. Mickelson won the Masters, where Woods was fourth, finished second at the Quail Hollow Championship as Woods missed the cut, and was T-17 at the Players Championship. Woods quit on the seventh hole Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.
While it is likely not a conscious thought on the part of Mickelson, you get the feeling that if he should take over the No. 1 spot in the Official World Ranking, which he would have done with a victory here this week, Phil would rather do it with Woods among the competitors. No sense claiming the prize only to have people say, "Well, Tiger wasn't there."
Woods has held the No. 1 ranking a total of 601 weeks and the last 259 consecutively. Mickelson, who has spent the last 13 years compiling awesome career numbers in the shadow of Woods, has never been the best player in the world, according to the rankings.
He certainly didn't play like No. 1 at Colonial. After an opening round 71 - eight strokes off the lead - in which he hit only five fairways, missing some with a 2-iron off the tee, he failed to mount a charge in Friday's second round. In fact, he was even more erratic.
Playing the back nine first, Mickelson made a routine par on No. 10 then missed the fairway left on the par-5 11th hole and compounded that mistake by hooking his second shot into the hazard right off the fairway. And that bogey was made worse by a four-foot miss on No. 12 as he dropped two strokes in the first three holes.
Any lingering hope ended on No. 5 - his 14th hole - when he drove into the left trees, punched out and made a bogey that sealed his fate. After Mickelson drove on No. 8 a voice called out, "No 1 in the world." Not yet. Perhaps that will come at a tournament when Woods is also in the field, perhaps next week at the Memorial or two weeks after that at the U.S. Open on Father's Day. Somehow, that would seem appropriate.
-- Ron Sirak