Ian Patrick, FISM News
Phil Mickelson, last year’s Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Championship winner, will not be attending this year’s championship match according to an announcement from the PGA of America.
ESPN reports that the statement reads, “We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship. 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.”
Last year Mickelson became the oldest PGA golfer to win the Championship at 50 years old, playing on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. Since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January, Mickelson has not participated in any PGA Tour event.
His absences are related to comments he made about the PGA Tour published back in February.
The golfer did an interview in November of 2021 with author Alan Shipnuck of The Fire Pit Collective for a biography he is writing about Mickelson. Part of that interview was released in February of this year, detailing Mickelson’s thoughts and his involvement in a new golf tour from Saudi Arabia.
According to the interview, Mickelson decries the PGA Tour for using “manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics” on its players. He reluctantly tied himself to the new Super Golf League (SGL) in order to gain leverage and invoke changes in the Tour, calling the Saudi regime “scary.”
They’re scary motherf—–s to get involved with. We know 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. 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 SGL] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.
The SGL was rumored to have existed in 2021, coming from the attempted resurrection of the PGA competitor series known as the Premier Golf League (PGL). According to Shipnuck, a PGL investor said that sought-after Saudi Arabian investors became “competitors” through the formation of their own league.
In March of 2022, suspicions were confirmed through an announcement of eight planned events titled the LIV Golf Invitational, and PGA Tour members began debating whether or not it was worth joining. As for why Saudi Arabia is starting its own league, Shipnuck says it is simply “continued reputation-laundering for the brutal regime that supports it.”
Mickelson’s comments didn’t sit well with anyone, and days after his comments were leaked, he released an apology via his Twitter account.
A Statement from Phil Mickelson pic.twitter.com/2saaXIxhpu
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) February 22, 2022
Within his apology, Mickelson claims that his intentions in linking with the SGL “have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans.” He said his words “do not reflect” how he really feels and apologized for his “choice of words,” while also noting that they were “shared out of context and without [his] consent.”
He continued to push for change in golf saying, “real change is always preceded by disruption.” He also said his experience with the SGL “has been very positive” and that the people he specifically “worked with are visionaries and have only been supportive.”
The golfer gave his sponsors and partners an opportunity to reconsider their agreements with him because of these leaked comments. ESPN reports that Amstel Light, KPMG and Workday have all ended their relationships with him while Calloway paused their contract with him for the moment.
He ended the apology saying that he needs “time away to prioritize” his loved ones and to work on himself. Mickelson has not been active on his Twitter account since the releasing of his apology.
Since the comments have leaked, the PGA Tour and Commissioner Jay Monahan have attempted to curtail any attempts of players leaving the organization. The Tour denied players’ attempts to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, part of the SGL of this year, and has been offering different monetary bonuses to compensate its biggest named players.
Many PGA players, including Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, have since come out and voiced their support for the PGA.