Phil Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship and will not defend his title
A statement from the PGA Championship organisers read: Phil is the defending champion and currently eligible to be a PGA Life Member and we would have welcomed him to participate;
Last Updated: 14/05/22 7:47pm
Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from next week's PGA Championship and won't defend his title.
Mickelson has been taking a break from golf since the fall-out from his explosive comments about the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed breakaway spearheaded by Greg Norman.
The six-time major winner registered for the US PGA and next month's US Open on April 25 and also requested a release from the PGA Tour to play the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event from June 9-11.
That request was denied by the PGA Tour earlier this week.
A statement from the PGA Championship organisers read: "We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship. 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."
Sky Sports pundit, and former PGA Championship winner in 2002, Rich Beem said he was surprised to hear of Mickelson's decision to pull out, before adding that he feared his return to competitive golf was perhaps a bit too soon.
"Everything I'd heard building up to it was that he was committed to playing in it and defending his title," Beem said.
"But I still almost questioned that it seemed a little bit early for him to come back to the game - and no matter where he is at in the world, and no matter what he is doing, hopefully everything is moving in the right direction for him."
Asked whether Mickelson's decision to not to play will ensure there is less of a distraction surrounding the major championship, Beem said: "I think that's an accurate statement.
"But withdrawing right there, there are probably more questions to be asked."
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.
One former champion that will be playing at next week's PGA Championship is Tiger Woods.
The last time the PGA Championship was held at Southern Hill, Woods triumphed by two shots to win the event for the fourth time - although the course layout has since undergone a dramatic renovation.
Mickelson's recent criticism of a proposed Saudi-backed breakaway tour in golf 'hurt' the upstart league, according to former two-time major championship winner Greg Norman, CEO of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
Comments from a Mickelson interview with author Alan Shipnuck in November came to light in February in which he called the Saudis "scary mother******* to be involved with" and questioned the country's human rights record.
Mickelson has since apologised for his "reckless" comments and had filed a request to play in an event that conflicts with the PGA Tour, signaling his desire to still play in the new Saudi Super League.
Norman, speaking to ESPN earlier in May, said of the Mickelson controversy: "There's no question (it) hurt.
"It hurt a lot of aspects. It hurt the PGA Tour. It hurt us. It hurt the game of golf. It hurt Phil. So yeah, across all fronts.
"It wasn't just specifically to us. But it definitely created negative momentum against us."
Win £250,000 on Wednesday!
Do not miss your chance to land £250,000 in Wednesday's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 7:30pm.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of 1,700 courses across the UK & Ireland