— Royal Birkdale and Torrey Pines would seem to have nothing in common except that Phil Mickelson is playing major championships on both without a driver in his bag.
Mickelson carried only the 3-wood with him during his practice round Tuesday at the British Open, and he plans to keep it that way.
“We won’t be playing in this wind,” Mickelson said as he finished up his round with a light blowing toward the Irish Sea. “And when we get the normal wind, there really isn’t a driver for me until we get to 15. And then that brings the bunkers into play.”
Mickelson, who once had two drivers in his bag at the Masters, didn’t hit a driver in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He wasn’t much of a factor that week and finished five shots out of the playoff that Tiger Woods won over Rocco Mediate.
Mickelson instead has four wedges, including a 64-degree sand wedge that he can use for flop shots off tight lies on a links course. He also has two 3-irons, one of them with the loft tweaked to make a strong, driving club.
The 3-wood is the same club he had when he won the British Open at Muirfield in 2013, his last victory.
“It’s a much easier club for me to hit low,” Mickelson said on Golf Channel. “So even into the wind, I hit it every bit as far as I hit a driver.”
TIGER FALLING: Tiger Woods is out of golf for the rest of the season as he recovers from a fourth back surgery, and that means he finally is out of the top 1,000 players listed in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Woods is at No. 1,005 in the world this week, one spot ahead of Henric Sturehed of Sweden.
That’s no surprise. In the two-year counting period, Woods has only seven tournaments on his record and he earned ranking points at just three of them — a tie for 18th in the Greenbrier in 2015, a tie for 10th in the Wyndham Classic that same year and his 15th-place finish at the no-cut Hero World Challenge in December.
Woods was at No. 1 for 683 weeks, twice as long as anyone else in the history of the ranking that dates to 1986.
TAKING IT IN: Bill Haas has played as much links golf as anyone in this part of England. He even finally got around to playing Royal Birkdale.
Haas is among those players who love seeing other courses when they come to the British Open. When it was played at Royal Liverpool in 2014, Jason Dufner went over to play Royal Birkdale on the weekend. Brad Faxon used to find smaller links courses to play…