For the second time in two months, a major championship in men’s golf is being overshadowed by who won’t play in the event.
A large part of the story at the Masters in April was Phil Mickelson didn’t play in the PGA Tour’s first major of the year. Mickelson was still in the middle of time away from the game amid the backlash of his comments about the Saudi Arabian-based LIV tour and his support for that tour despite the backers being “scary” and murdering journalists, in Mickelson’s own words. It wasn’t a comfortable look for the Masters, who even had to deflect the idea that they had asked Mickelson not to show up at Augusta National.
Now it is the PGA Championship’s turn. Mickelson isn’t just a big name at the PGA, he is the defending champion. His win at Kiawah Island last May, one month short of his 51st birthday, was the feel-good victory of the year that should have sent Lefty into the sunset of his career and into the broadcast booth of whichever network offered the most money. Instead, Mickelson won’t play in the championship this week.
Maybe Mickelson isn’t ready to face his fellow players and the media over his support for the LIV. Maybe reprehensible comments from Greg Norman, the other face of the LIV, about the murder of a journalist being “a mistake” made Mickelson realize the time wasn’t right to resurface. Maybe he doesn’t want to be at the championship the week a tell-all-style book about his career is scheduled to come out. Maybe the rumors on social media are right, and Mickelson’s game just isn’t ready to be put on display at a major championship.