Phil Mickelson Withdraws from PGA Championship Following Controversial Comments

·2-min read
Phil Mickelson of the United States watches his shot from the tenth tee during the Pro-Am prior to the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 05, 2022
Phil Mickelson of the United States watches his shot from the tenth tee during the Pro-Am prior to the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on January 05, 2022

Cliff Hawkins/Getty

PGA Champion Phil Mickelson will not be defending his title at next week's tournament.

Mickelson, 51, is not participating in the PGA Championship tournament scheduled for next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The tournament's official Twitter account shared the announcement in a statement on Friday.

"We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship," the statement reads. "Phil is the defending champion and currently eligible to be a PGA Life Member and we would have welcomed him to participate. We wish Phil and [wife] Amy the very best and look forward to his return to golf."

Mickelson stepped away from his golf career after he made some controversial statements regarding the PGA Tour and several Saudi Arabian financiers of a separate golf circuit. The comments were released by author Alan Shipnuck, whose unofficial biography of the golfer will be published next Tuesday, May 17.

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The athlete, who became golf's oldest major champion after winning the PGA at Kiawah Island in South Carolina last year at age 50, told Shipnuck that he would overlook the alleged human rights violations of the Saudi Arabian government as a political move to further push his career.

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"They're scary motherf---ers to get involved with," Mickelson said in a conversation with Shipnuck last November, according to ESPN. "They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident 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."

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Mickelson apologized for his comments in a lengthy statement delivered on social media with his return to Twitter in February.

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"Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interests of golf, my peers, sponsors and fans," Mickelson wrote. "There is the problem of off-the-record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions."

"It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words. I'm beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this," he added.

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