Just in time to stoke the British Open tabloid chatter, Tiger was too high and Phil hit a new low in the West Virginia mountains.
For the first time in 197 mutual tournaments played as professionals, both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson missed the cut in the same event. Apparently Greenbrier’s billionaire owner didn’t pay enough (reportedly a combined $2.8 million in personal-service deals) to keep the two biggest draws in golf around for the weekend.
Woods, who missed only his ninth career cut in 17 seasons but second of 2012, left the Old White course complaining his wedges suffered from altitude sickness a week after winning his third event of the season at Congressional.
“I had my distance control dialed in last week and this week I was hitting the ball so far,’’ Woods said. “I know it’s hot. I know we’re at altitude.”
So is this anything to worry about heading over
to the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes?
“It’s not going to be this warm and we’re not going to be at altitude, we’ll be on the beach,’’ he said.
Mickelson was another story. His game seemed to be suffering from the same mental lapses he said have plagued him all year with a lack of engagement. His matching rounds of 71 fit in with the string of 79-76-71-71-78 he had coming in – the seven consecutive over-par scores exceeding the most in his 20-year career. It was Mickelson’s 64th career missed cut.
“I really have been (off),” Mickelson said. “I don’t know what to say about that. It hasn’t been great. The parts don’t feel that far off, but I haven’t been putting them together.”
Heading to the two previous majors, Woods was coming of wins yet fell flat in both. A year ago at Royal St. George’s, Mickelson said he finally figured out links golf that led to a Sunday charge that garnered him a rare runner-up in the British.
So who knows what two blah days in West Virginia meant?
PEPPER STRAY: At long last, Dottie Pepper is back where she belongs on the U.S. Solheim Cup team. Captain Meg Mallon named Pepper an assistant on Wednesday for the 2013 matches in Colorado.
Pepper, who epitomized the feisty American in racking up 14 points in the first six biennial team events, had been ostracized for five years for making a flippant observation when she thought her mic was turned off during a broadcast of the 2007 matches in Sweden.
“Chokin’ freakin’ dogs!” Pepper blurted out after a short missed putt cost the Americans a half-point on what turned out to be a bleak Saturday. The airing of the inadvertent criticism stung the U.S. players, who rallied Sunday to win the Solheim Cup.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t regret that it happened,” a tearful Pepper said Wednesday. “And we all learn.”
Pepper, whose fire and insight make her one of the best analysts in television, didn’t deserve to be exiled for saying what everyone watching those matches was thinking.
The U.S. players who harbored hurt feelings for so long need to get over themselves, and Mallon did the right thing by bringing her back.
“I feel Dottie needed to stop carrying this burden around,” Mallon said.
Instead of the burden, Pepper should carry the U.S. flag as a future Solheim captain.
SEREEN-A: It was so quiet Saturday morning that I almost forgot Wimbledon was on.
The championship match between Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska was a blissful experience to watch, with neither of the powerful women assaulting the ears with all the squealing and grunting that has blighted the women’s game. During Thursday’s semifinals when Williams mercifully dismissed Victoria Azarenka, I wasn’t sure if the court was being circled by a howling ambulance, one of my dogs was injured or an emergency test signal was warning of threatening storms in the area.
UPSET CALL: It’s hard to commit to this after the way Roger Federer so sublimely eliminated defending champion Novak Djokovic in Friday’s semifinal, but the 16-time grand slam winner and six-time Wimbledon champ is NOT going to beat a man who has never won a set in a grand slam final.
In this year of All England – with the Olympics on tap in London later in the month and the Open Championship getting set at Royal Lytham next week – Andy Murray is poised to become the first British men’s champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
That’s just too perfect a story line to get ruined, right?