Phil Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson won’t defend his historic PGA Championship title next week at Southern Hills.

The 2021 PGA Champion, who hasn’t played competitively in more than three months and has been in exile over explosive and controversial comments he made about the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed league tour, on Friday withdrew from the 104th PGA Championship, the PGA of America announced.

“We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship,” a statement from the PGA of America said.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 [wife] Amy the very best and look forward to his return to golf.”

Mickelson, who’s won six major championships, including three Masters and two PGAs, last month withdrew from the Masters. It was the first time he didn’t play at Augusta since 1994.

Last year at Kiawah Island, he became golf’s oldest major champion by winning at age 50.

Mickelson hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in late January and last played in February at the Saudi International.

After golf writer Alan Shipnuck, who’s writing a biography on Mickelson, published sharp comments from Mickelson, who contended it was a private conversation, the 51-year-old Mickelson issued an apology statement that said he was going to take some time away from the game.

What followed was longtime sponsors Amstel Light, KPMG and Workday ending their relationships with him. Callaway, which in 2017 signed Mickelson to a contract through the end of his playing career, “paused’’ its relationship with him.

PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, in a recent interview with the 5 Clubs podcast, made a comment that suggested that perhaps Mickelson has been serving a PGA Tour-sanctioned suspension ban when Waugh spoke about Mickelson getting a press conference out of the way before teeing it up again if he decided to play next week.

“The idea is if he does play, and if he’s able to and allowed to … he would certainly have to face the media,’’ Waugh said. “But I hope it’s Monday or Tuesday. What we’re trying to do is deliver a major championship, not a circus.’’

That “if he’s allowed to’’ comment by Waugh raised questions that perhaps he knows something the rest of us don’t.

The PGA of America and the PGA Tour are separate governing bodies, but Waugh and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan are close and very much align with each other on policies.

Waugh revealed that he’s had conversations with Mickelson and said, “I think he’s trying to figure out when the right time is for him. I think the game is trying to figure out the right time for him, too. How long is enough?’’

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