WASHINGTON: Phil Mickelson said on Friday he will not defend his PGA Championship title after having stepped away from the game in February amid fallout from comments he made regarding a Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

Mickelson had kept golf fans guessing about whether he would be at Southern Hills Country Club next week but the speculation ended with the PGA of America confirming he would not be in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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

“We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship,” the PGA of America said. “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.”

It’s the first year Mickelson has missed two majors since 1993, when he didn’t play the US or British Opens.

Mickelson’s public image took a hit when the author of an unauthorised biography on the six-time major champion said the golfer told him he was willing to look past Saudi Arabia’s human rights record such as the murder of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi to gain leverage with the PGA Tour.

Saudi Arabia’s government has denied accusations of human rights abuses and Mickelson later apologised for the comments, which he claimed were off the record, and then said he planned to take time away from the sport.

Mickelson became golf’s oldest major champion at last year’s PGA Championship when, less than a month shy of turning 51, he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen to triumph by two shots at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

Last month Mickelson filed for a release from the PGA Tour to play in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational event, to be held June 9-11 near London, and also registered for the PGA Championship and June 16-19 US Open.

The PGA Tour on Tuesday rejected requests from several players, including Mickelson, for clearance to play the LIV opener.

The LIV Golf series plans eight events this year, four at US venues, but no names of players have been revealed.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Pawn sacrifice
Updated 19 Aug, 2022

Pawn sacrifice

Concerns over torture allegedly perpetrated against Gill are valid and must be looked into forthwith.
Frozen conflict
19 Aug, 2022

Frozen conflict

THE recent discovery of the body of an Indian soldier lost in an ice storm on the Siachen glacier 38 years ago yet...
Deadly rains
19 Aug, 2022

Deadly rains

THERE seems to be no end to our monsoon misery. Deadly rains continue to lash several parts of the country,...
The fall guy
Updated 18 Aug, 2022

The fall guy

Maryam’s public distancing from Miftah over recent fuel price hike is quite uncalled for.
Never-ending scourge
18 Aug, 2022

Never-ending scourge

POLIO eradication efforts in the country appear to have suddenly taken a giant leap backwards. A day after...
Frozen Afghan funds
18 Aug, 2022

Frozen Afghan funds

WITH Afghanistan facing a humanitarian catastrophe and economic collapse, the American decision to not release ...