PGA Tour Commissioner on Phil Mickelson controversy: 'The ball is in his court'

Six-time major champion taking break from game following explosive comments regarding tour

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks to the media during a press conference prior to The Players Championship. Getty Images
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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said he has not spoken to Phil Mickelson since his controversial comments about the tour came to light last month, but that a conversation will need to take place before the six-time major champion returns to play.

Mickelson, 51, announced two weeks ago that he was taking time away from the game "to prioritise the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be."

That followed inflammatory comments, made late last year but publisised only last month, about the PGA Tour and the potential breakaway Super Golf League. Mickelson said then that he was using the new league as leverage against the sport’s lead circuit.

Speaking late Tuesday during a press conference ahead of this week’s Players Championship, Monahan said: "He stepped away on his own accord, and he's asked for time. He's been given that time. We don't comment on disciplinary matters, potential matters or actual matters. But every player is accountable for their actions out here.

“I think that, as it relates to Phil, you said it: The ball is in his court. He has said that he's stepping away and he wants time for reflection. That's something that I and we are going to respect and honour. When he's ready to come back to the PGA Tour, we're going to have that conversation. That's a conversation I look forward to."

The PGA Tour does not announce disciplinary measures, although some of its members, including four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, have asked for more transparency in relation to suspensions and bans.

"I would welcome a phone call from him," Monahan said of Mickelson. "But it's hard for me to talk about the different scenarios that could play out.

“Listen, he's a player that's won 45 times on the PGA Tour. He's had a Hall of Fame career. He's won here at the Players Championship. He's inspired a lot of people and helped grow this tour, his tour.

“So, as difficult as it is to read some of the things that were said, ultimately a conversation will be had when he's ready to have it, and I will be ready to have it, as well."

Mickelson has been criticised widely for his comments, including by top players such as McIlroy and Justin Thomas. One of the game’s most successful stars, the American has lost a number of long-time sponsors since his remarks were made public.

On Tuesday, Monahan pre-empted questions regarding the proposed Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League (SGL). In his opening remarks, the PGA Tour chief said the circuit “is moving on”.

“We have too much momentum and too much to accomplish to be consistently distracted by rumours of other golf leagues and their attempts to disrupt our players, our partners and most importantly our fans from enjoying the tour and the game we all love so much,” Monahan said.

"I am grateful for the strong support our top players have shown recently and publicly, and I'm extremely proud that we've turned the conversation around to focus on what we do best: delivering world-class golf tournaments with the best players to the best fans, all while positively impacting the communities in which we play."

In what felt a veiled rebuke of Mickelson, Monahan added: "We are and we always will be focused on legacy, not leverage."

Updated: March 09, 2022, 7:04 AM