Given his unfortunate history at the one Major he never won, Mickelson has long been the center of attention at the US Open, but this year’s spotlight has been shaded differently. After years of criticizing the PGA Tour’s control of players’ media rights, his support for what became known as LIV Golf – and his willingness to downplay human rights abuses committed by his Saudi supporters – became public knowledge in February. That led to an extended absence: Mickelson’s last PGA Tour event was in late January. He missed the Masters for the first time since 1994 and didn’t show up to defend his 2021 PGA championship win.
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When he showed up for LIV’s launch event outside of London earlier this month, he sported a beard and dressed in black, a look he wore to the country club this week. And while he answered some tough questions from reporters about taking Saudi money at a Monday press conference, fans at the country club seemed delighted to see him, even as he trudged around a course he couldn’t keep up with .
Mickelson’s second round on Friday was better than his first on Thursday – when he bogeyed three of his first five holes, double bogeyed the sixth and finished 8-78 – but it wasn’t nearly enough to get him into the weekend. After starting with three pars, Mickelson reeled off three straight bogeys, and by the time he carded his second birdie of the tournament with a long putt off the green on his 14th hole, he was already double digits over par. He hit another long putt Birdie on the following hole, but still didn’t care.
Mickelson’s missed cut isn’t exactly a surprise in a tournament where he’s had a troubled history. He has been runners-up six times at the US Open, which is only behind Jack Nicklaus’ seven second-place finishes at the British Open in Grand Slam runners-up finishes. The difference? Nicklaus also won the British Open three times while the US Open remains the only major to elude Mickelson. And in his eight US Opens since his last runner-up spot in 2013, Mickelson has no better result than a tie for 28th place, with three missed cuts.
Since his rousing run to the 2021 PGA championship title, when he became the oldest player to win a major at 50, Mickelson has missed the cut in two of the three majors he has competed in and an uncompetitive 62 in the other. space occupied. His results on the regular PGA Tour weren’t much better, and he finished 33rd out of 48 in the first no-cut LIV tournament.
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Still, Mickelson’s reputation was such that LIV’s Saudi backers thought it wise to reportedly pay him more than $200 million just to join the league he created by helping pay the lawyers who drafted the operating agreement. He will be the face of the franchise even with his best years on the pitch behind him.
His future in non-LIV events is less certain. The PGA Tour suspended all players who had joined the Breakaway Circuit, but has no say over who can attend golf’s majors run by outside organizations. A former Masters and PGA Championship winner, Mickelson has a lifetime pass to those tournaments – provided Augusta National and the PGA of America don’t change their rules – and he’s given free entry to the British Open as a former champion until age 60 years. Also, Mickelson has three more years of automatic US Open qualification due to his PGA championship win last year.
That being said, Mickelson appears destined to spend his golden years of golf playing primarily against lesser competitors with a lighter schedule for easy money on the LIV tour.