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Masters lists Mickelson among those not playing in April

By AFP - Mar 22,2022 - Last updated at Mar 22,2022

WASHINGTON — Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson will not play in next month’s Masters, missing the Augusta National showdown for the first time since 1994, according to a field update posted Monday on the tournament’s website.

Mickelson’s status had been in question since he criticised the US PGA Tour in remarks revealed last month supporting a Saudi-backed rival circuit and apologised later, saying he needed some time away from golf.

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 left-hander will defend his title at the PGA Championship, which will be played in May at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

After alienating US 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 US PGA 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.

Author Alan Shipnuck released excerpts from an upcoming book about Mickelson with the US star calling the Saudis “scary” with a “horrible record on human rights.”

Mickelson said he was willing to work with the Saudis to gain leverage and force change on the US PGA Tour, calling it “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.”

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 at age 50 at Kiawah Island. He also won the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the 2005 PGA and the 2013 British Open and is a record six-time US Open runner-up.

 

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