Phil Mickelson will not defend his PGA Championship title after stepping away from the game in February amid a backlash over comments he made about a Saudi-backed golf league.
- Mickelson recently came under fire for comments he allegedly made to the author of an unauthorized biography in which he ignored Saudi Arabia’s human rights record
- He filed for a release from the PGA Tour last month in order to participate in the Saudi-backed LIV Invitational, spear-headed by Greg Norman
- On Tuesday, the PGA Tour rejected release requests from players to take part in the LIV opener
Mickelson had kept golf fans guessing about whether he would be at Southern Hills Country Club next week but the speculation ended when the PGA of America announced he would not be in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The 51-year-old American is just the third PGA champion not to defend his title — after Tiger Woods in 2008 and Ben Hogan in 1949, both of whom bowed out due to injury.
“We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship,” the PGA of America said.
“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 Amy the very best and look forward to his return to golf.”
Mickelson’s public image took a hit when the author of an unauthorized biography on the six-time major champion said the golfer told him he was willing to look past Saudi Arabia’s human rights record to gain leverage with the PGA Tour.
Mickelson later apologized for the comments, which he claimed were off the record, and then said he planned to take time away from the sport.
Saudi Arabia’s government has denied accusations of human rights abuses.
Mickelson became golf’s oldest major champion at last year’s PGA Championship when, less than a month shy of turning 51, he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen to triumph by two shots at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.
Last month, Mickelson filed for a release from the PGA Tour to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational event, to be held from June 9 to 11 near London, and also registered for the PGA Championship and June 16-19 US Open.
The PGA Tour on Tuesday rejected requests from several players, including Mickelson, for clearance to play the LIV opener.