The Match: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson joke at the tee
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The PGA Championship have hatched a plan to avoid a ‘circus’ as Phil Mickelson’s name was confimed on the entry field for the tournament. Speculation surrounding the American serving a ban continues to intensify and the head of the tournament Seth Waugh hopes things do not spiral out of control if the 51-year-old did make an appearance at Southern Hills later this month. Waugh is desperate for Mickelson to take part as one of the 156 competitors who will do battle in Tulsa.
“I hope what we can do is have that [the press conference] before the flag goes up,” Waugh said. “The idea is, if he does play, and if he’s able to and allowed to… he would certainly have to face the media. But I hope it’s Monday or Tuesday… What we’re trying to do is deliver a major championship, not a circus.”
Tiger Woods is also on the list for the tournament and may make an appearance despite suggestions he may not have recovered from the physical exertion of The Masters, his first competitive tournament in 17 months. He defied the odds to play 72 holes at Augusta in what was widely considered a truly remarkable feat following his car crash in February 2021.
Last year at the age of 50, Mickelson made history by becoming the oldest major winner. He was in the final field that was released on Monday but he has up until the first round to withdraw. In February, the 51-year-old announced that he would be taking a break from golf following the saga surrounding the Saudi Golf League.
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This came after he described the Saudi state as ‘scary mother f*****s’ due to their poor human rights record, but added he would look past this in order to ‘gain leverage’ over the PGA Tour. He continued: “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights.
“They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.
“As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage.” Mickelson received an invitation to compete at The Masters last month, but declined the opportunity to play following his controversial last few months.
Augusta chairman Fred Ridley confirmed the news, saying: “We did not disinvite Phil,” said Ridley. “He made a personal decision and I don’t know anything beyond that. Phil reached out to me, I think in late February, early March and let me know he did not intend to play. That was by way of text. “I thanked him for his courtesy of letting me know and told him I was willing to discuss that further if he liked and we had a very cordial exchange.
“Phil has been a real fixture here for many, many years and a big part of our history and we certainly wish him the best in working through the issues he has now.” Mickelson missed the tournament for the first time in 28 years and he captured the green jacket three times during that period, with his last victory coming in 2010.
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