If officials at the upcoming PGA Championship were worried that the presence of Phil Mickelson would create a “circus,” they no longer have to be concerned.

The PGA released a statement on Friday saying that Mickelson will not be at Southern Hills to defend his championship.

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.

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.

[PGA Championship]

About Michael Dixon

Michael has a background in sports writing both online (Bleacher Report, Sportsnaut, Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks) and in print (Sedona Red Rock News, Brentwood Press). Sports have been a lifeline passion for Michael and he continues to enjoy writing and talking about them.