Defending champion Phil Mickelson drops out of PGA Championship
Legendary golfer Phil Mickelson withdrew from the PGA Championship, keeping himself on hiatus from professional golf, tournament organizers announced on Friday.
Why it matters: Mickelson stepped away from golf after he made comments about Saudi Arabia and human rights abuses that he said he thought were off the record.
- The PGA said that "we would have welcomed him to participate."
- In the biography about him, Mickelson said that he was involved in a potential new Saudi-backed golf league, despite the country's human rights abuses, Axios' Ivana Saric writes.
What he said: "They killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights," Mickelson told the biography's author in an interview, per ESPN. "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."
- Mickelson apologized for the comments, saying he thought he was speaking off the record.
- He said the "pressure and stress" of golf impacted him at a "deeper level."
- "I know I have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritize the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be.”
Of note: Mickelson is just the third PGA champion who will not defend his title over the last 75 years, per AP.
- Tiger Woods didn't defend his crown in 2008 due to knee surgery.
- Ben Hogan couldn't play in 1949 after "recovering from his car getting struck by a bus," per AP.