Phil Mickelson will not defend his title at the PGA Championship next weekend. You can probably guess why.
The PGA of America announced Friday that Mickelson had withdrawn from the tournament which he had won last year, despite the organization saying it “would have welcomed him to participate.”
Mickelson became the oldest player to win a major last year with his PGA Championship title at Kiawah Island. He has already skipped the Masters this year, following the uproar over his comments about the Saudi Arabian backers behind the upcoming LIV Golf Invitational Series.
His PGA Championship withdrawal comes right before the arrival of the long-awaited, and long-dreaded by some, arrival of LIV Golf, which is scheduled to hold its first event at London’s Centurion Club in June.
Mickelson had his request for a waiver to play in that event rejected by the PGA Tour earlier this weekleaving his future with the tour in limbo as its well-funded challenger looks for defectors.
Where Phil Mickelson stands with the PGA Tour and LIV Golf
Mickelson has long been linked to LIV Golf, to the point of infamy.
The popular veteran has not competed in an event since the book excerpt heard ’round the world, in which he described the Saudis as “scary motherf***ers” and said he was willing to do business with a country with “a horrible record on human rights” because of a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
The comments triggered an immediate backlash for Mickelson, who has since apologized and all but receded from the public view.
LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman blamed the comments for a number of a big-name golfers backing out of the tour at the last minute. Norman has since made some highly controversial comments of his own by saying “we all make mistakes” regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Despite ire from LIV Golf’s commissioner, its critics and plenty of his fellow golfers, Mickelson has still been reported to be among the handful of golfers making the jump to the highly lucrative tour. That group will soon reach its point of no return, as the PGA Tour denied waivers to play in the London event earlier this week.
The group who requested waivers reportedly includes Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. Should they decide to skip the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open to play in London next month, they risk serious sanctions from the organization, including the permanent revocation of the Tour card.