Mickelson decides not to defend his title at the PGA Championship

Mickelson decides not to defend his title at the PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson retired from the PGA Championship on Friday, opting to extend his golf break after making inflammatory comments about a Saudi-funded rival league he supports and the PGA Tour, which he accused of greed had.

Mickelson scored one of the most impressive wins last year when he won the PGA at Kiawah Island and at the age of 50 became the oldest champion in 161 years at the majors.

Well, the popular line from a decade ago – “What’s Phil going to do next?” – carries more intrigue than pure excitement.

The PGA of America announced his decision on social media. The PGA Championship begins Thursday at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Mickelson has not played at the Saudi International since February 6, when he accused the PGA Tour of “insufferable greed” in an interview with Golf Digest.

Two weeks later, in an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck’s unauthorized biography, due to be released next week, Mickelson revealed how he had worked behind the scenes to promote the rival league, funded by the Public Investment Fund and run by Greg Norman.

Mickelson dismissed Saudi Arabia’s human rights atrocities, including the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, saying it was worth it if it meant gaining leverage to push through the changes he wanted on the PGA Tour .

Mickelson met the April 25 deadline to register for the PGA Championship, although his manager said it was more about keeping his options open. He also attended the US Open and said he would ask for a conflicting clearance of the event to play the LIV Golf Invitational in London, the first of Norman’s $20 million tournaments.

The tour said earlier this week that it would not be granting any releases.

Mickelson is the first major champion since Rory McIlroy at St Andrews in 2015 not to defend his title because of a knee injury playing football.

He is only the third PGA champion not to have defended his title in the past 75 years. Tiger Woods missed 2008 while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and Ben Hogan was unable to play in 1949 while recovering from his car being hit by a bus.

Mickelson’s problems were self-inflicted.

“Personally, I think it’s an incredible mental challenge to come back and play after what he’s done to himself,” six-time major champion and CBS analyst Nick Faldo said Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s that easy to just get back on your bike and come to a golf tournament and play. The attention will be monumental.”

Now attention is shifting to whether Mickelson will brave the tour by playing in London in three weeks time or if he would go to the US Open, the only major he has never won.

He last played in America on January 28th at Torrey Pines. He missed the cut.

Shipnuck’s book is due out on Tuesday. Among the excerpts he has previously posted to his Firepit Collective page was Mickelson, who said he recruited players to pay attorneys to write a new league’s operating agreement.

“We know they killed Khashoggi and have a terrible human rights record. They execute people there because they are gay. Knowing all this, why should I even consider it? Because this is a unique opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour works,” said Mickelson.

He called the PGA Tour and Commissioner Jay Monahan a “dictatorship.”

“I’m not sure I really want it to happen,” he said of the Saudi league. “But just the idea allows us to get things done with the Tour.”

Mickelson quickly lost corporate sponsors including KPMG and Amstel Light, while Workday said it would not renew its contract with him. Mickelson released a statement calling his comment “reckless” and apologizing for his choice of words.

Mickelson said in his statement he’s felt pressure and stress on a deeper level over the past 10 years and he needs some time off.

But he didn’t say if he would take a break from golf. He has not played since the Saudi International on February 6th. He’s not playing this week. His statement ended, “I know I haven’t done my best and I desperately need some time to prioritize those I love the most and work on being the man I want to be.”

“I know I haven’t done my best and I desperately need some time to prioritize those I love the most and work on being the man I want to be,” he said in February.

Mickelson was replaced in the field by former Masters champion Charl Schwarzel.


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