White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia: Tiger Woods was pleased with the way he hit his driver, and he raved about the surroundings and the fan enthusiasm in his first appearance at the Greenbrier Classic.
“It happens, you know?” Woods said. “You miss cuts out here.”
Days after rallying at Congressional for his third victory of the year and 74th PGA Tour title, Woods had trouble with distance control in his iron play and reading the speed of the greens on an Old White TPC course he hadn’t seen before this week.
Now Woods — and Phil Mickelson — have some extra time to get ready for the British Open.
Woods missed the cut by a stroke on Friday, following an opening 71 with a 69 to finish at even par.
“I didn’t quite have it,” he said.
US Open champion Webb Simpson did.
Playing alongside Woods, Simpson shot a four-under 66 in a bogey-free round to reach nine-under and take a one-stroke lead before play was suspended because of darkness in the round delayed because of rain.
A dozen players were unable to complete play.
Simpson has played in Woods’ group both times he has missed the cut this year, the other coming at Wells Fargo. And they played together at Doral in the fourth round in March when Woods withdrew after 11 holes because of tightness in his left Achilles tendon.
This time, Simpson didn’t see anything amiss with Woods’ play.
“He actually played really well,” Simpson said. “He just had some distance control problems and, you know, it wasn’t an issue last week. His game looks good to me.”
Simpson has been in this position before at the Greenbrier Classic, leading last year with nine holes left in the final round before fading to a tie for ninth.
“I was confident last year, I’m confident this year,” Simpson said. “I don’t think a whole lot has changed. I learned a lot about myself in the final round last year. I think I was only one back in the final round. So I’ve got a long ways to go, a bunch of good players right there.”
Just not Woods or Mickelson.
Woods missed a cut for only the ninth time in his PGA career, and third time in a tournament following a victory. The others came in 2005 at Disney and 2009 at the British Open. Both times he took a week off after his wins.
“I drove it really good today and I just did not have the feel for the distances,” Woods said. “The ball was just going forever.
“I know it’s hot. I know we’re at altitude. My sand wedge is going 142, 145, wedge is 160. These are numbers that I don’t normally hit. Some of the bigger guys hit those numbers, but I don’t. And I was really struggling to get the ball at the right number.”
That should be easy to fix heading to the British Open, which starts July 19 at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
“Yeah, because it’s not going to be this warm and we’re not going to be at altitude. We’ll be on the beach,” he said.
Mickelson hopes the British Open starts a turnaround. He’s now gone seven consecutive rounds over par after his second straight 71.
“I certainly am looking forward to links golf,” Mickelson said. “I enjoy playing the ball on the ground and hitting it — you know, trying to keep it below head high on some tee shots and so forth. That was fun last year when we had some terrible weather. And it will hopefully play to one of my strengths, which is short game, and I’ll try to get that sharp heading into the British.”
It marked the first time Woods and Mickelson have missed the cut in the same tournament as professionals. When Woods was an amateur, he and Mickelson missed the cut in the 1993 Byron Nelson.
Among those still on the course when play was stopped was Martin Flores, who was a stroke back at 8 under with two holes left. The round was delayed more than two hours earlier in the day because of thunderstorms.
Rookie Charlie Beljan (62), Jonathan Byrd (68), Jeff Maggert (68) and Jerry Kelly (66) also were 8 under.
Twenty-one players were within four shots of Simpson.
First-round leader Vijay Singh shot a 74 to drop six strokes back.