Phil Mickelson has played only two rounds of golf in the United States since January, and after two ugly rounds at the U.S. Open, it'll be a few weeks before he plays any more.
Mickelson, who still lacks only the U.S. Open to complete the career Grand Slam, finished Friday at the U.S. Open at +11, well outside the projected cut line. Mickelson spent most of the last four months in golf exile after comments about the Saudi regime and the PGA Tour were made public in February, and the rust was clear.
"I missed competing," Mickelson said in a brief postround interview, "but I also enjoyed some time away."
Mickelson has six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open, but his competitive days at the tournament are fading faster into the distance. Since his second-place finish at Merion in 2013, he's missed three cuts and hasn't finished higher than T28. He remains a fan favorite, but his chances to remain a factor are narrowing each year.
"It was spectacular to come back to such a historic course, and I thought the setup was remarkable," Mickelson said, in a sharp departure from his usual criticism of the USGA. "Just really showcased what a special place this is."
Since he missed the cut, Mickelson won't receive a nickel for participating in this week's U.S. Open, which is part of his grievance against golf's establishment. Regardless of opinions on his actions or his performance, Mickelson has drawn considerable attention to the tournament — this article included — and he believes he shouldn't have to do that for free.
For now, though, Mickelson will be making his money on the LIV Golf tour, starting with next month's tournament in Portland, Oregon. After that, six more tournaments will comprise the LIV Golf inaugural season, with four of those being played in the United States. No matter how poorly he plays in those no-cut events, he'll get paid. Well paid.
Contact Jay Busbee at firstname.lastname@example.org or at @jaybusbee on Twitter.