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Mickelson exits early

The Masters champion fails to make the cut for the second straight year and might not return.

RODNEY PAGE
Published October 30, 2004

PALM HARBOR - Phil Mickelson emerged from the scoring room after Friday's second round of the Chrysler Championship and instructed his caddie, Jim MacKay, to warm up the rental car.

It was time to head home to Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., for a weekend with the family instead of two more rounds on Innisbrook's Copperhead Course.

For the second straight year, Mickelson failed to make the cut after shooting 5-over 76 for a two-round score of 5-over 147. It was only the second time this season Mickelson failed to make a cut, including the Byron Nelson Championship in May. "It's a tough course for me to play well on," Mickelson said. "Mainly it's because I just don't read the greens very well. It's a wonderful event.

"I'm just sorry I didn't play better."

Mickelson has played well all season. He won his first major, the Masters, in April, has 11 top-10 finishes in 22 starts and ranks second on the money list with $5,672,323. When Mickelson missed the cut last year, at least he had not been playing up to his standards. He fell out of the top 30 on the money list for the first time since his rookie year in 1992 and had only seven top-10 finishes.

He also admitted to being tired. He shot 80 and 74 then had the weekend off. Mickelson didn't play again until the season opening Bob Hope Classic on Jan. 25, which he won.

But no matter what kind of season he's having, the Copperhead Course has given Mickelson fits. He failed to record a birdie Friday until the 18th hole. Before that, he had bogies at 5-8 and a double bogey at the par-4 16th.

He is no stranger to the Innisbrook Resort. He won the 1990 NCAA championship on the Island Course while at Arizona State. Copperhead is a different story.

"I've never read Bermuda (greens) that well," he said. "When I won the NCAAs at the Island Course, they were a reasonable speed. But now they're so fast that you have to read them perfectly for them to go in. I'm just not seeing it."

A second straight sub-par performance here has Mickelson thinking about schedule changes. After the PGA Championship in August, Mickelson said he could feel his energy level sinking. He will play in next week's Tour Championship, reserved for players in the top 30 on the money list and an event he wants to qualify for every season. But whether Innisbrook remains on his schedule next year is up in the air.

"I've noticed in the past few years, after the PGA, I really haven't played well," Mickelson said. "It seems like I play hard in a lot of events up until the PGA, and then after that, I don't seem to play that well. I might have to look at doing something different next year."

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