OAKMONT, Pa. – Phil Mickelson’s quest for the career Grand Slam must wait another year. Mickelson was among the notable players who missed the cut at Oakmont Country Club.
Mickelson shot 74-73, one shot too high to earn a tee time for the U.S. Open’s final two rounds. This was his third missed cut in 26 U.S. Open appearances. Two of them have come at Oakmont. He also missed the cut here in 2007 after injuring his wrist in the practice rounds. He also missed the cut in the 1992 U.S. Open, his pro debut, after shooting 68-81.
Mickelson has finished outside the top 25 in five of his past six U.S. Open appearances; his T2 finish at Merion is the lone exception.
Mickelson made just three birdies in 36 holes this week. He ranked sixth in driving accuracy this week, hitting 21 of 28 fairways, but hit little more than half his greens (20 of 36). He ranked 80th in the field in greens hit.
“I didn’t have very many birdie opportunities to offset those mistakes,” said Mickelson, who also missed the cut in this year’s Masters. “My irons were just a fraction off. Instead of hitting it to 15 feet, giving myself chances, I’m 30 feet, 40 feet, and fighting just to make par.”
Mickelson had been one of the TOUR’s best iron players this season; he started the week ranked eighth in strokes gained: approach-the-green this season.
The cut fell at 6 over par and Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, was the biggest name to miss out. It was his first cut in a major since the 2013 Open Championship. McIlroy, a four-time major winner, is seeking his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship.
McIlroy, who shot a first-round 77, made birdie on four of his first seven holes Saturday and looked poised to make a move. He didn’t make another birdie, shooting 5-over 40 on his second nine after making two doubles and a bogey. This is his third missed cut in eight U.S. Open starts.
He would have qualified for the final two rounds if he had parred No. 9, his final hole of the second round, but he drove into a fairway bunker and left his second shot in that hazard.
Joining Mickelson and McIlroy on the wrong side of the cut line were Patrick Reed, William McGirt, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Brandt Snedeker, Hideki Matsuyama and Smylie Kaufman. Henrik Stenson won’t be around for the weekend, either, after withdrawing with “minor neck and knee issues,” according to his Twitter account.
Fowler finished in the top five in all four majors in 2014. He has three missed cuts and has two T30s in his past five major starts. He also missed the cut in this year’s Masters. Snedeker had finished no worse than 17th in his past five U.S. Open appearances. McGirt, who got in the field after winning the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, was making his U.S. Open debut.
Former U.S. Open champions to miss the cut were Ernie Els (1994), Retief Goosen (2001, ‘04), Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Lucas Glover (2009), McIlroy (2011), Webb Simpson (2012) and Justin Rose (2013). Els won the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Goosen was granted a special exemption into this year’s field. This was the last U.S. Open for which Ogilvy was exempt based on his win at Winged Foot; U.S. Open champions are exempt into the field for 10 years.
Aaron Wise, the 2016 NCAA individual champion who was making his pro debut this week, missed the cut after shooting 74-76.
Ten of the 11 amateurs at Oakmont also missed the cut. As the lone amateur to make the cut, Jon Rahm is guaranteed to earn low amateur honors. Rahm was exempt into the field by winning the 2015 Mark H. McCormack Medal as the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He is turning pro at next week’s Quicken Loans National.
Scottie Scheffler, the Texas sophomore who fired 69 on Thursday, shot 78 today to miss the cut.
“I hit it really, really bad,” he said. “I couldn’t get the ball in the fairway.”
He wasn’t the only one who saw the rough side of Oakmont.