Phil Mickelson withdraws from US PGA Championship title defence

Six-time major winner has not competed since controversial comments were made public in February

KIAWAH ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 23: Phil Mickelson of the United States celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the final round of the 2021 PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort on May 23, 2021 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.   Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP
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Defending champion Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from next week's US PGA Championship, as his self-enforced hiatus from professional golf continues.

The six-time major champion, 51, was registered to enter the May-19-22 event at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, despite representatives saying last month that he was not sure when he would return to competition.

However, in a statement released late on Friday, the PGA of America said: "We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship.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 [wife] Amy the very best and look forward to his return to golf."

Mickelson, who with victory at last year’s PGA Championship became the oldest major winner in history, has not competed since February, following the publication of controversial comments made about the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia. He said then that he would be taking "an indefinite break" from pro golf.

Mickelson is now expected to make his return on the new Liv Golf Invitational Series, the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway tour, after he requested a release to play in its inaugural event in England next month.

The three-time Masters champion, who sat out last month’s tournament at Augusta National, is registered for both the LIV Golf opener at Centurion Golf Club just outside London and next month's US Open. Earlier this week, the PGA Tour rejected its members' waiver requests to play in the LIV Golf event, which runs June 9-11.

Mickelson, though, had been expected to tee it up at the PGA Championship. Speaking this week on the “5 Clubs Conversations" podcast, the CEO of the PGA of America, Seth Waugh, said he had discussed with the defending champion his competitive comeback.

"I think he's trying to figure out when the right time is for him," Waugh said. "I think the game is trying to figure out the right time for him, too. How long is enough? And is he ready mentally and physically to do it?"

Updated: May 14, 2022, 10:36 AM