Phil Mickelson withdrew from the PGA Championship on Friday, deciding to extend the pause he has put on golf after his inflammatory remarks last year, when he supported a rival alternative league financed with funds from Saudi Arabia and called the Tour of the PGA.
Mickelson achieved one of the most amazing victories in history last year, when he took the PGA at Kiawah Island at age 50. He thus became the oldest champion in 161 years of major tournaments.
The PGA of the United States announced its decision on social networks.
The PGA Championship kicks off next Thursday at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Mickelson has not played since February 6, at the Saudi International, where he accused the Tour of “hateful greed” during an interview with Golf Digest.
Two weeks later, in an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck’s unauthorized biography due to be published next week, Mickelson revealed how he had worked behind the scenes to promote the rival league financed by the Public Investment Fund and operated by former golfer Greg Norman.
Mickelson dismissed the atrocities attributed to Saudi Arabia against human rights, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. He pointed out that the Saudi support was worth it, if it provided the power to make the desired changes on the PGA Tour.
Since then, he has been out of the public eye.
Mickelson signed up right on the edge for the PGA Championship on April 25, though his manager said the southpaw wasn’t sure he would participate but wanted to keep his options open.
He is only the third PGA champion not to defend his crown in the last 75 years. Tiger Woods sat out in 2008 while recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left knee and Ben Hogan sat out in 1949 while recovering from an accident in which a truck collided with his car.
The last time a major champion didn’t show up the following year seeking to defend his title was in 2015. Rory McIlroy did not return to St. Andrews due to a knee injury sustained while playing football.