Phil Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship amid fallout from Saudi comments

Phil Mickelson will not defend his PGA Championship title after pulling out of the game in February amid backlash over comments he made about a Saudi-backed golf league.

Mickelson had kept golf fans guessing if he would be at Southern Hills Country Club next week, but the speculation ended when the PGA of America announced he would not be at Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The 51-year-old American is only the third PGA champion not to defend his title, following Tiger Woods in 2008 and Ben Hogan in 1949, both of whom retired due to injury.

“We have just been advised that Phil Mickelson has retired from the PGA Championship,” the PGA of America said.

“Phil is the reigning champion and currently eligible for PGA Life Membership and we would have welcomed him.

“We wish Phil and Amy the best and look forward to his return to golf.”

Mickelson’s public image took a hit when the author of an unauthorized biography of the six-time major champion said the golfer told him he was ready to look beyond the human rights record. man in Saudi Arabia to gain leverage with the PGA Tour.

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Mickelson later apologized for the comments, which he said were off the record, then said he planned to step away from the sport.

The Saudi 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 strokes at the ocean course. of Kiawah Island.

Last month, Mickelson applied for a PGA Tour release to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational, to be held June 9-11 near London, and also signed up for the PGA Championship and the US Open from June 16 to 19.

The PGA Tour on Tuesday denied requests from several players, including Mickelson, for permission to play LIV’s opener.

Reuters

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