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Top ranking still elusive for Mickelson after missed cut

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - A week that began with Phil Mickelson eyeing the top spot in the world rankings ended prematurely on Friday when he missed the cut by a significant margin at the Colonial Invitational.

On an ideal day for scoring at Colonial Country Club, the American left-hander battled to a three-over-par 73 in the second round to languish near the bottom of the leaderboard.

Mickelson, who would have replaced Tiger Woods as world number one for the first time with victory this week, bogeyed three of his last seven holes to lie a distant six strokes off the projected cutline.

"I played terrible," the four-times major champion told reporters after recording five bogeys and two birdies in calm, hot conditions. "The course is in great shape.

"There was no wind and there were a ton of birdies out there. And I didn't make have many of them. I thought my game was sharper.

"This was a good barometer, though," Mickelson said after posting a four-over total of 144. "This starts my run into the (June 17-20) U.S. Open. It tells me that I have a lot of work to do."

Mickelson, who clinched his fourth major crown at last month's U.S. Masters, had not missed a cut on the PGA Tour since last year's Houston Open, a run of 21 events.

RUSTIER MICKELSON

"I thought I was playing really well," the world number two said. "I had some good practice sessions at home. As it turned out, I'm a little bit rustier than I thought.

"I didn't drive it very well. I didn't hit many good iron shots. I'll get home, get some practice in and see if I can get this thing turned around."

Asked this week whether he was surprised the number one spot had eluded him since he turned professional in 1992, he replied: "I don't know how to answer that.

"I would say 13 of those years were in Tiger years. It hasn't been the easiest."

Woods has been world number one for the last 259 weeks, and an overall total of 601.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ed Osmond)