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 recently came under fire for comments he allegedly made to the author of an unauthorized biography that ignored Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
- He requested a release from the PGA Tour last month to participate in the Saudi-backed LIV Invitational, headlined by Greg Norman.
- On Tuesday, the PGA Tour denied players’ release requests to participate in the LIV opener.
Mickelson had kept golf fans in doubt as to whether he would be at Southern Hills Country Club next week, but speculation ended when the PGA of America announced he would not be in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The 51-year-old American is only the third PGA champion not to defend his title, after Tiger Woods in 2008 and Ben Hogan in 1949, who both pulled 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“We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship,” the PGA of America said.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 is currently eligible for PGA Life Membership and we would have welcomed him to participate.
“We wish Phil and Amy the best and look forward to their return to golf.”
Mickelson’s public image took a hit when the author of an unauthorized biography of the six-time Grand Slam champion said the golfer told him he was willing to look beyond Saudi Arabia’s human rights record to gain influence at the PGA. Tour.
Mickelson later apologized for the comments, which he claimed were off the record, later saying he planned to take time out of the sport.
The Saudi Arabian government has denied allegations of human rights abuses.
Mickelson became the oldest golf champion at last year’s PGA Championship when, less than a month shy of his 51st birthday, he edged out Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen to win by two strokes at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island.
Last month, Mickelson applied for a release from the PGA Tour to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational, which takes place June 9-11 near London, and has also registered for the PGA Championship and US Open on June 16. to June 19.
The PGA Tour on Tuesday denied requests from several players, including Mickelson, for clearance to play the LIV opener.