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PGA Championship: Mickelson Won’t Defend Title

Phil Mickelson withdrew from the PGA Championship on Friday, deciding to extend his golf hiatus following heated comments he made about a Saudi Arabia-sponsored rival tournament he supports and the PGA Tour, which he accused of being greedy.

Author Mickelson produced one of his greatest victories last year when he won the PGA at Kiawah Island, aged 50, becoming the oldest champion in 161 years of professional tournaments.

Now, the popular phrase from a decade ago – “What will Phil do next?” – carries more intrigue than sheer excitement.

The US PGA announced its decision on social media. The PGA Championship begins Thursday at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.

Mickelson hasn’t competed since February 6 at the Saudi International, where he accused the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed” in an interview with Golf Digest.

Two weeks later, in an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck’s unauthorized biography to be released next week, Mickelson reveals how he has been working behind the scenes to promote a rival tournament sponsored by the Investment Fund. private and run by Greg Norman.

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

Mickelson met the April 25 deadline to apply for the PGA Championship, although his manager said it was about keeping his options open. He also participated in the US Open, and said he would ask for a conflict event to be released to play the LIV Golf Invitational in London, the first of Norman’s $20 million US tournament. .

The tour said earlier this week they wouldn’t be granting any releases.

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

He’s only the third PGA champion not to defend his title in the past 75 years. Tiger Woods was absent in 2008 while recovering from knee reconstruction surgery, and Ben Hogan was unable to compete in 1949 while recovering after his car was hit by a bus.

Mickelson’s problems were self-inflicted.

“Personally, I think it’s been an unbelievable mental challenge to come back and compete after what he’s been through,” six-time major champion and CBS analyst Nick Faldo said today. Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s as easy as just getting back on the bike and going to a golf tournament and playing. The attention will be epic.”

Attention now turns to whether Mickelson will defy the tour by playing in London for three weeks, or if he will attend the US Open, the only major tournament he has never won.

The last time he played in America was at Torrey Pines on January 28. He missed his chance.

Shipnuck’s book is scheduled to be released on Tuesday. Among the excerpts he has published on his “Firepit Collective” website is Mickelson saying that he has recruited players to pay lawyers to write the operating agreement of a new league.

“We know they killed Khashoggi and have a terrible record of human rights. They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all this, why am I reviewing it? Because this is it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime 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 want it to be successful,” he said of the Saudi Arabia tournament. “But just the idea of ​​it was to allow us to get work done with the tour.”

Mickelson quickly lost corporate sponsors such as KPMG and Amstel Light, while Workday said it would not renew his contract. Mickelson released a statement in which he described his comment as “reckless” and apologized for his choice of words.

Mickelson said in his statement that he has felt the pressure and stress affect him on a deeper level over the past 10 years and that he needs time to move away.

But he did not say whether he would take a break from golf. He hasn’t played since the Saudi Arabia International on Feb. 6. He won’t play this week. His statement concluded, “I know I’m not at my best yet and desperately need some time to prioritize the people I love most and strive to be the man I want to be.”

“I know I haven’t been at my best and desperately need some time to prioritize the people I love most and try to be the man I want to be,” he said in February.

Mickelson was replaced by former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

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