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Phil Mickelson will not be among the participants at the PGA Championship this week and his absence has “disappointed” some of the golfers and event organizers.
Seth Waugh, the CEO of PGA of America, said no one was more excited than the tour when Mickelson won the event last year in South Carolina and hoped he would come to defend the title. However, Mickelson’s comments about Saudi Arabia and reported intentions to play with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour has roiled the PGA Tour.
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“He’s not here. It’s his choice. He and I have had some conversations before, during and after, and I can really say that on Friday his camp called and said he’s not ready to play. Obviously we respect that. We understand it, “Waugh said Tuesday, via ESPN. “We wish nothing but the best for him and Amy. He’s going through a lot. I don’t really have a whole lot more to say. We’re disappointed he’s not here, and again, wish him all the best.”
Mickelson decided last weekend he wouldn’t play the major after winning it last year. He drew chaotic crowds at the PGA Championship last year in South Carolina, which frustrated Brooks Koepka and forced the PGA to apologize.
Mickelson created some controversy when his remarks about Saudi Arabia were published in an interview with author Alan Shipnuck, whose book, “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar” is scheduled for a release this month. Shipnuck posted a story based on the phone interview on “The Firepit Collective” website.
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“They’re scary mother —— s to get involved with,” Mickelson reportedly said. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.
“They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want [the Saudi golf league] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour. “
Mickelson would later apologize, saying, “I’m beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this.”
Rory McIlroy, who last won the event in 2014, said this week should have been a celebration of Mickelson.
“This should be a celebration, right? He won a major championship at 50 years old. It was possibly his last big, big moment in the game of golf. I think he should be here this week and celebrating what a monumental achievement he achieved last year, “he said.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s sad. Yeah, I don’t know what else I can say.”
His win at 50 years old made Mickelson the oldest winner in major championship history.
Jon Rahm added that Mickelson had to do what was best for him.
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Mickelson didn’t explain why he would miss the PGA Championship.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.