Scandal questions linger as Mickelson misses cut

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Phil Mickelson described it as an "interesting week,'' one that ended earlier than he had hoped Friday evening with a missed cut at the Players Championship and included him answering questions about a college admissions bribery scandal.

Mickelson said Thursday that neither he nor has family made any illicit contributions to a nonprofit company that has come under scrutiny for accepting bribes from wealthy families in exchange for favorable treatment with college applications. Mickelson said he used the company for tutoring purposes for his three children.

All of that came in the midst of an odd time for the World Golf Hall of Famer, who last month won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for his 44th PGA Tour title but has since had lackluster results in four tournaments, including consecutive missed cuts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship.

After missing the cut in Orlando, Florida, a week ago, Mickelson would not even commit to playing the PGA Tour's signature event before seeing the TPC Stadium course earlier this week to gauge the rough.

"I don't know what it is about this golf course,'' Mickelson said after shooting 74 to miss the cut by five shots. "It's pristine shape, it's a wonderful setup, it's terrific, and I just don't play well. I don't know what to say.''

Mickelson, 48, said he will take the next week to figure out what he wants to do next. He will play either the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play or the Valero Texas Open prior to the Masters, and seemed to be leaning toward the World Golf Championship event.

"I missed two cuts in a row so that's not very encouraging,'' he said. "But I've got next week off. I'll go home, get a little rest and work a few things out. But for me the biggest thing has been putting, I just haven't been putting anywhere near like I did last year and I just got to get that back. If I do I'll be in good shape and I got plenty of time to turn it around.

"I don't feel like it's far off. I actually felt like I hit a lot of good shots this week, but I'm having some trouble with the putter and I'll have to work that out.''

As for the academic scandal, Mickelson said: "You know, I'm used to taking hits, but it hurts when you have your kids being questioned over doing nothing but working hard and studying hard, so, but we're going to be OK.''