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Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship

Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson said on Friday that he would not defend his PGA Championship title after retiring from the sport in February after backlash for remarks he made about a Saudi-backed golf league.

Mickelson has left golf fans wondering whether he will play at Southern Hills Country Club next week. Still, the PGA of America confirmed that he would not be in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

After Tiger Woods in 2008 and Ben Hogan in 1949, both of whom pulled out due to injury, the 51-year-old American becomes just the third PGA champion not to defend his title.

The PGA of America tweeted, “We have just been told that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship.” “Phil is the reigning winner and is now eligible for PGA Life Membership, so he would have been a great addition.”

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“We send our warmest wishes to Phil and Amy and look forward to his comeback to golf.”

Mickelson’s public image was tarnished when the author of an unofficial book on the six-time major winner said the golfer informed him he was ready to overlook Saudi Arabia’s human rights record to gain negotiating power with the PGA Tour.

The Saudi government has disputed allegations of human rights violations, and Mickelson subsequently apologized for his remarks, which he said were made off the record, and announced that he will retire from golf.

Last year, barely a month short of turning 51, Mickelson won the PGA Championship by two strokes over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, becoming golf’s oldest major victor.

Mickelson applied for a release from the PGA Tour last month to compete in the first LIV Golf Invitational, held June 9-11 in London, and registered for the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open which will be contested June 16-19.

The PGA Tour denied numerous players’ bids to compete in the LIV opening on Tuesday, including Mickelson.