Augusta National Chairman, Fred Ridley has confirmed that Phil Mickelson was not expelled from this year’s 86th Masters and, in fact, he withdrew of his own accord.
Ridley indicated in the annual Masters Chairman’s address that the three-time winning Mickelson contacted the club on March 24thto advise he would not be teeing up this week at Augusta National.
It is not known what reason Mickelson gave to Ridley but it is widely thought that Mickelson’s highly-controversial comments about the Saudi-backed Super Golf League and his remarks involving the PGA Tour, and a decision to now stand aside from tournament golf, are the reasons.
“Phil made a personal decision, and I don’t know anything beyond that,” said Ridley.
“I know that Phil has been a real fixture here at the Masters for many, many years. He’s been a big part of our history. We certainly wish him the best working through the issues he’s dealing with right now.”
Indeed, Mickelson made his Masters debut in 1991, winning the ‘Low Amateur’ award. He won a first green jacket in 2004, carrying as we know two drivers in his bag, and then a second Augusta title in 2006 and a third four years later in 2010. And since 1995, Mickelson has not missed a Masters, well not till this year.
But as it was pointed out to Ridley, you lose one Masters champion in Mickelson, and in a huge surprise to the sports world, you gain another in a five-time Masters winner, who in February last year could have lost his life.
“It’s just truly amazing; I don’t even know how else to say it,” Ridley said.
“I would have probably taken some pretty high odds a few weeks or a few months ago whether or not he (Tiger Woods) would be here. But when you think about it, it really shouldn’t surprise us. He is one of the most determined, dedicated athletes that I have ever seen in my life.”
“I saw him out last Tuesday when he was out practicing, was in great spirits and had Charlie with him. It was interesting yesterday in his press conference, he said the only real issue is walking; that his golf swing’s fine. So who knows what might happen this week. But we are excited he’s here”.
That Chairman Ridley, is an under-statement.