Mickelson pulls the plug on PGA defence

Bernie McGuire

Phil Mickelson (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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It comes as no real surprise to learn Phil Mickelson has chosen not to defend next week’s PGA Championship title in Oklahoma.

The PGA of America, as organisers of the year’s second major, confirmed the news in a statement on Friday.

A year ago, and amid wild scenes on the shoreline at Kiawah Island, the then 50-year-old  became the oldest winner of a major.

But a year on how the mighty have fallen, with Mickelson believed to have been politely advised by the Augusta green jackets not to attend The Masters for fear of a media circus.

Now after late talks with Mickelson by the head of the PGA of America, Mickelson is a non-starter for a second straight major.

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“We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship,” the PGA of America said.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

Mickelson’s public image took a hit when the author of an unauthorised biography on the six-times major champion said the golfer told him he was willing to look past Saudi Arabia’s human rights record 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 game.

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 U.S. Open.

Mickelson’s place at Southern Hills had been taken by Charl Schwartzel.

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