The 2022 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club tees off Thursday with Phil Mickelson conspicuous by his absence.
The three-time Masters champ is not in the field for the first time since 1994 as he continues his extended leave from the PGA Tour stemming from his controversial comments about the upstart Super Golf League (SGL), backed by Saudi Arabia.
Mickelson officially removed himself from the Masters field on March 21, with rumors swirling that he was asked not to play by those at Augusta National. On the eve of the PGA Tour’s premier event and major, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley denied any such thing from taking place.
“We did not disinvite Phil,’’ Ridley said at Wednesday’s press conference. “Phil is a three-time Masters champion and is invited in that category and many other categories. He’s the defending PGA champion.”
Ridley added that Mickelson reached out to him in late February or early March to let him know he wouldn’t be participating.
“Phil reached out to me… and let me know that he did not intend to play,” Ridley said. “That was by way of a text. And I thanked him for his courtesy in letting me know. I told him that we certainly appreciated that and told him that I was certainly willing to discuss that further with him if he’d like. And he thanked me, and we had a very cordial exchange.”
Mickelson’s comments came from an interview with author Alan Shipnuck, who is set to release “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar,” in May. A snippet of the interview was released in February and has created a firestorm for Mickelson since.
“They’re [Saudi Arabia] scary motherf—— to get involved with,” Mickelson said. “We know they killed [Washington Post columnist 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.”
KPMG, Mickelson’s main sponsor, subsequently ended its relationship with him. He apologized shortly thereafter and has remained out of the spotlight since, having not played in a PGA Tour tournament since January.
Fellow tour member Bryson DeChambeau, ranked No. 14 in the world, was asked Monday if he’s heard from Mickelson.
“I’ve tried to reach out, but he’s gone dark,” DeChambeau said, via ESPN. “There’s no contact.”
And while Mickelson won’t make the signature walk across The Hogan Bridge this year, Ridley acknowledged what he’s meant to Augusta National and wished him best on what he’s going through.
“He made a personal decision and I don’t know anything beyond that,” Ridley said. “I know that Phil has been a real fixture here at the Masters for many, many years. He’s been a big part of our history. I certainly and we certainly wish him the best sort of working through the issues he’s dealing with right now.”
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