Phil Mickelson to miss Masters for first time in 27 years

American among list of Past Champions Not Playing while he takes time away from golf following controversial comments about PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson last played at the Saudi International in February prior to announcing he was taking time away from golf. Getty Images
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Phil Mickelson will not play at next month's Masters at Augusta National, meaning the six-time major champion will be absent from the field for the first time in 27 years.

Mickelson, who has played at every Masters tournament since 1995, announced he is taking some time away from golf after causing a stir over critical comments made about the PGA Tour in relation to the launch of the new Saudi-backed rival circuit.

In a listing of invitees to the 86th Masters, which runs April 7-10 at the famed Georgia course, 2021 PGA Championship winner Mickelson was among golfers listed as Past Champions Not Playing.

The list generally features elder statesmen of the sport who have claimed the green jacket, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Nick Faldo. That list, however, did not include Tiger Woods, who is recovering from severe leg injuries suffered in a car crash 13 months ago.

The major question surrounding Mickelson now would be if the 51-year-old American will defend his title at the PGA Championship, which will be played in May at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

After alienating PGA Tour leaders and organisers of the upstart tour, Mickelson said last month he was taking time away from the sport.

"The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level," Mickelson said in a statement. "I know I have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritise the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be."

Mickelson has not played since last month's Saudi International and last played a PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines in January, both before the rival tour controversy erupted.

Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, was revealed as having helped support organisers of a Saudi-backed tour eager to have top PGA talent play in its events.

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Mickelson said he was willing to work with the Saudi-backed league to gain leverage and force change on the PGA Tour, calling it "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."

He later apologised for the comments and said he would "self-reflect and learn from this," but PGA commissioner Jay Monahan said earlier this month he hasn't spoken with Mickelson about tour comeback plans.

"When he's ready to come back to the PGA Tour, we're going to have that conversation," Monahan said. "That's a conversation I look forward to."

Mickelson became the oldest major winner in history last May when he won the PGA Championship at age 50 at Kiawah Island. He also won the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the 2005 PGA and the 2013 Open and is a record six-time US Open runner-up.

Updated: March 22, 2022, 4:05 AM