LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — Phil Mickelson left the British Open perplexed about the state of his game. More surprising is that he left on Friday.
The four-time major champion hit into bunkers and into the high grass. He hit a spectator and nearly drilled a photographer who was crouched in the line of his shot about 20 yards away. He wound up with an 8-over-par 78 and missed the cut in a major for the first in five years, dating to Carnoustie in 2007.
His 18 straight cuts in the majors had been the longest current streak.
‘‘I don’t know what to say,’’ Mickelson said, a phrase he repeated a half-dozen times in an interview that ended when there was really nothing left to ask.
Mickelson worked on his ball position with swing coach Butch Harmon on Thursday after opening with a 73 and was hopeful of turning it around. But it went the other way in a hurry Friday. His approach to the par-4 sixth was slightly right and tumbled down into a pot bunker, and the best he could do was to blast out to 15 feet. His par putt missed, and the 2-footer that followed did a 360-degree circle around the cup for double bogey.
On the next hole, he pushed his drive left and beaned a spectator. With a reasonable lie, three photographers tried to capture the shot. Instead of asking them to move, Mickelson ignored them and his shot went about 3 feet over one photographer’s head.
A 2-over 72 landed Tom Watson just inside the cut line at 143, enabling the 62-year-old five-time Open champion to extend his own record as the oldest man to play on the weekend since the British Open went to a 36-hole cut. Watson is 13 strokes behind. Eight other former British Open winners didn’t make the cut, including defending champion Darren Clarke . . . Mark Calcavecchia made the cut at the British for the 19th time. Calcavecchia, 52, has the Senior British Open at Turnberry next week.
If top-ranked Luke Donald is finally going to win his first major, chances are he'll have to do it with a backup caddie. Donald gave caddie John McLaren the day off Friday to be at his wife’s bedside for the birth of the couple’s first child. ‘‘I won’t pay him for today, obviously,’’ joked Donald . . . Spraying drives left, right, and directly into water-filled bunkers, second-ranked Rory McIlroy’s wayward tee shots led to his 5-over 75. That left him at 2-over 142, above the cut line but 12 shots behind the leader. ‘‘The course is very playable. You just need to keep out of the bunkers, which is the whole idea anyway,’’ McIlroy said.