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PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson withdraws after criticism of Saudi-backed LIV Golf series comments

PGA champion Phil Mickelson is continuing his hiatus from golf, saying that he will not participate in the 104th championship to defend his title.

Gidget Alikpala
The PGA denies golfers the chance to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series

Reigning PGA champion Phil Mickelson will extend his more-than-three-month break from golf, and won’t be defending his title next week. The PGA of America announced his withdrawal from the tournament in a statement on Twitter.

“We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship,” according to the statement.

“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.”

37-year-old Charl Schwartzel will take the place of Mickelson in the competition.

Mickelson lying low after controversial comments

Mickelson took a break from professional golf after the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He stopped competing following his controversial remarks on the Saudi Arabian regime and the PGA Tour, which were made to Golf Digest and Alan Shipnuck, who is releasing “Phil: The Rip-roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar” next week.

Mickelson criticized the PGA Tour on Golf Digest, saying the Tour’s “greed” was “beyond obnoxious.”

The six-time major champion spoke strongly about Saudi Arabia to Shipnuck.

“They’re scary mother——- to get involved with. We know they killed (Washington Post reporter and US resident Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.”

Mickelson suffers backlash from remarks

The World Golf Hall of Famer has since apologized for his comments.

“I used words I sincerely regret that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions. It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words. I’m beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this,” he said in a statement.

Following the controversy, his long-standing sponsors have either ended or paused their relationship with him.

Mickelson made history last year by becoming the oldest champion of a major event at Kiawah Island at 50 years of age.

The PGA Championship will be held from May 19 to 22 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


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