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HIATUS EXTENDED

Phil Mickelson withdraws from PGA Championship following controversy over Saudi Arabia comments

PHIL Mickelson will not defend his PGA Championship title after withdrawing from the tournament on Friday.

Mickelson extends his hiatus from golf following controversial comments he made in February regarding Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Golf League, and accusing the PGA Tour of greed.

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Mickelson withdrew from the PGA Championship on FridayCredit: Getty Images - Getty
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Mickelson is a six-time Major winnerCredit: Getty Images - Getty
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Mickelson received backlash for his remarks about Saudi ArabiaCredit: Getty Images - Getty

Mickelson, a six-time Major winner, won the PGA Championship in 2021. He becomes only the third PGA Champion in the last 75 years to not defend his title.

The PGA Championship released a statement via Twitter, saying "we would have welcomed him to participate."

Mickelson met the April 25 deadline to register for the Championship, but, according to his manager, was unsure whether or not he'd play.

The 51-year-old has largely been unseen since last playing at the Saudi International on February 6.

He stated his belief that the funding produced by the Saudi Golf League, which is rumored to have 48 players compete and act as a rival to the PGA Tour, will help improve the sport and that the money can be used to reshape the nature of the PGA tour.

Mickelson said: "They're scary... to get involved with.

"We know they killed [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?

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"Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.

“They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.

"And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage."

Mickelson received backlash for his remarks from a variety of people, including fellow golfer Rory McIlroy.

He said: "I don’t want to kick someone while he’s down obviously, but I thought [Mickelson's comments] were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant.“

Mickelson issued an apology for his comments later in February, saying he "used words I sincerely regret."

"It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words," Mickelson wrote in a social media statement.

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The 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills will be held from May 19-22.

Mickelson's reps have not yet responded to The US Sun's request for comment.

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