The PGA released a statement on Friday saying that Mickelson will not be at Southern Hills to defend his championship.
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) May 13, 2022
The timing of this announcement is notable. In addition to being less than a week away from the start of the PGA Championship, it’s only days after the PGA Tour announced that it would not allow its members to play in the Saudi-backed LIV League’s first event. Mickelson has been a vocal critic of the PGA Tour and had applied to play in that LIV event as well as the PGA Championship.
Fans of golf had a range of emotions on the Mickelson news.
Wow. Hard to see where Phil Mickelson returns to “real” golf now. The PGA Championship gave him cover as the defending champion, and without the PGA Tour running the event.
It seems he must be 100% in on LIV golf. https://t.co/PeYpOxHfsK
— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) May 13, 2022
Hey golf, be careful. Sincerely, A Guy Who Covered the Indy 500 Split https://t.co/zeTLKpNgxS
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) May 13, 2022
— Salz (@kylesalz67) May 13, 2022
— Nick Leach (@NickLeach_) May 13, 2022
“look forward to his return to golf” is 𝒔𝒂𝒗𝒂𝒈𝒆 https://t.co/RKTlrq0Wec
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) May 13, 2022
This is the equivalent of deciding not to defend a Super Bowl title because you could go make “more money” playing in the Canadian Football League.
Phil just taking a blowtorch to his legacy at this point. https://t.co/zxqsUM78vT
— Derek Summerville 🌻 (@D_Summerville) May 13, 2022
Lefty had one of the most legendary majors wins & now won’t even show to defend. He not wanna answer the big Js questions? He suspended? Regardless – it’s a pretty sad situation https://t.co/BJ7mN931oS
— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) May 13, 2022
This whole saga has been massively disappointing and ultimately very, very sad. Now circles to a point where an incredible feel good story from 2021 has this aftertaste. https://t.co/AK2IJem63L
— Laurie Horesh (@LaurieHoresh) May 13, 2022
The PGA Championship withdrawal begs a simple question. What’s next for Lefty?
It’s hard to say.
The U.S. Open would be an obvious answer. As the 2021 PGA Champion, he’s qualified to play in the U.S. Open until 2025. Mickelson has filed to play in the 2022 event but that was prior to the PGA Tour’s announcement regarding its players and the Saudi League.
Mickelson has not played since the Famers Insurance Open, which was held in January. Since then, he’s blasted the PGA Tour and spoke openly of his interest in the LIV League. Mickelson also made a number of controversial comments about the Saudis — though he’s not the only one to do that. The comments prompted Mickelson to take an extended hiatus from the course.
And with the news that he won’t be defending his 2021 PGA Championship win, it is fair to wonder when, or even if, we’ll see Mickelson on the PGA Tour again.