Mickelson at a loss for words after missing cut

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland -- After missing the cut at the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club on Friday, Phil Mickelson couldn't get off the golf course fast enough.

Once Mickelson signed his scorecard, he walked briskly down the gravel road to the players' clubhouse.

After Mickelson finished 8 over with disappointing rounds of 76-74, it's clear that Tiger Woods isn't the only 40-something golfer facing questions about his age and the overall state of his game.

"You know, I'm playing so bad that I really don't know what to say," Mickelson said. "I'm just playing terrible golf."

Woods, a 15-time major winner, also missed the cut by finishing 6 over. It's the first time in 83 major championships in which both Mickelson and Woods started that they both missed the weekend cut.

It's the second time in three years that Mickelson missed the cut at the Open, after finishing runner-up to Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon in 2016.

"You kind of go through the ups and downs during your career and you figure it out," Mickelson said. "But I really don't have any answers right now."

Mickelson, 49, arrived in Northern Ireland having missed the cut in four of his previous six PGA Tour events. Now he has missed the weekend in three straight tournaments and he's not sure how to turn his game around.

Before the Open Championship, he fasted for six days and lost 15 pounds in what he described as a "reset." During the fast, he drank only water and a special coffee blend for wellness. The weight loss didn't seem to help, as Mickelson said he's still struggling to maintain his focus on the course.

The five-time major winner didn't blame his poor performance at Royal Portrush on his sudden diet change.

"I don't think I could argue that because I've played so poorly that I doubt that's it," he said. "You go through highs and lows throughout a career and certainly I'm at a low. I'm not overly concerned that I'll get out of it. I'm pretty resilient, but I'm not playing good golf right now."

After winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for the 44th tour victory of his career, Mickelson had high hopes for the 2019 season. But he finished in the top 25 only once more -- he was tied for 18th at the Masters in April -- and missed the cut in eight of 17 events.

He finished tied for 71st at the PGA Championship and tied for 52nd at the U.S. Open.

"I thought after winning Pebble I was going to have a phenomenal year, and the last four months have been surprisingly difficult," he said.

Mickelson isn't sure he'll play in next week's WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, Tennessee. He might take a break before the start of the FedExCup Playoffs in August.

"I'm committed [to play in Memphis] right now, but I wouldn't go past that," Mickelson said. "I don't know if I need some time away or if I should try to play through it. I'm just not sure. I'll fly home and take a few days and see how I feel. I love Memphis, I love the course, I love everything about the event, but I'm just not playing well.

"There's no cut there, so that's kind of a good thing."