Tiger Woods will still be world No. 1 at the British Open next week after a quintuple-bogey 9 led to Phil Mickelson missing the halfway cut by one in the Barclays Scottish Open tonight.
The Masters champion had to finish first or second at Loch Lomond to go to the top for the first time in his career, but it all went horribly wrong on the 455-yard 18th. The hole was Mickelson's ninth of the day, and in the pouring rain he put two balls in the water hazard left of the fairway.
"The club felt like it slipped a little bit on the first one," said the left-hander, who will spend the weekend practicing at St. Andrews instead. "You can always look at the positives, but I wanted to play and get a couple more competitive rounds."
Reminded that he had also made an early exit from the tournament in 2004 and a week later came in third at Royal Troon -- his only top-10 finish in the Open -- Mickelson answered: "That's true.
"I've played well weeks after missing the cut -- and I've played poorly. It is what it is,” he said. "I'm trying to get ready for the British Open and get ready for St. Andrews, get my game sharpened and the first two days gave me the opportunity to see where it needs work the next few days."
Mickelson has spent 254 weeks as No. 2 in various spells, but all of them tucked in just behind Woods.
The man who has won the last two Opens at the Home of Golf -- by eight and five strokes -- has held the top spot uninterrupted for more than five years and for 607 weeks in total. That will now become 608. At least.
Mickelson's second drive down the 18th actually turned out to be playable, but he had hit a third and that became the ball in play.
"I probably could have wedged it (the second) out a few yards,” he said. “But I was signaled that the ball was in the water, so I didn't really want to walk 300 yards up and 300 yards back."
As it turned out, though, it could have made all the difference.