PINEHURST, N.C. - Coming into this week, Phil Mickelson's outlook was about as high as the sun and stars. In the first two rounds, though, it was his scores that were too high, and he has come down to Earth.
"Well, I'm not overly optimistic,'' he said after shooting 73 and completing 36 holes at 3 over, 13 strokes off Martin Kaymer's lead. "After I've three-putted three or four times, I kind of lose my focus on the other stuff. It really affects my ability to concentrate and my momentum and my energy. It's a frustrating time, because I feel like the other parts of my game are there.''
He made the cut but probably lost his chance to win his first U.S. Open title, or even gain his seventh second-place finish.
Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson mistakenly hit each other's ball on the 18th fairway (their ninth hole). Each incurred a two-stroke penalty and made double bogey. Mahan finished at 6 over and missed the cut by one stroke.
"It was a hundred percent on me. I was the first one to the ball,'' said John Wood, Mahan's caddie. "You're out here every day for 17 years, you know where the ball goes in the fairway. And I can't grasp where the ball ended up. That was no excuse, it was my fault.
"I don't believe I did something that epically dumb, but I did.''
Good few days for dads
Kevin Kisner never will forget the leadup to Father's Day this year, even though he did not make the cut in the U.S. Open. The 30-year-old, still trying to make his way on the PGA Tour, arrived at Pinehurst Tuesday night after his wife gave birth on Monday.
"I played 12 holes on Wednesday, then we got rained out, and teed it up Thursday morning at 6:56,'' he said, adding that he got to change one diaper before he showed up for his first Open.
As hard as he tried, he realized he was not going to come close to making the cut. So on the 17th hole, on his way to finishing 36 holes at 12 over, he summoned his father, Steve, out of the crowd and asked him to caddie for him the last two holes -- a tribute to the father who taught the game to his son.
"Walking down the 18th fairway, I got a little choked up. But it means a lot,'' Steve said. "Kevin is a good person, and that's what's most important to me. I get told that by the other players and the people that work with the PGA that he's a good person.''
Steve said it was a complete surprise. If he had known he was going to be inside the ropes and in the spotlight, he might not have bought a beer at a concession stand. "Actually, I had a couple out there,'' he told reporters, "so I might be a good interview.''