Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Sports

Golf-McIlroy on Mickelson’s PGA Championship absence: ‘he should be here’

TULSA, Oklahoma (Reuters) – Former world number one Rory McIlroy said it is both sad and unfortunate that Phil Mickelson will not be defending his title at this this week’s PGA Championship after deciding to extend his hiatus from the sport.

Mickelson, who became golf’s oldest major champion at last year’s PGA Championship when he triumphed shortly before turning 51, stepped away from golf in February following the reaction to comments he made regarding the Saudi-backed golf league.

Four-time major champion McIlroy, speaking during his pre-tournament news conference at Southern Hills Country Club, felt the Hall of Fame golfer and long-time fan favourite deserved a sort of victory lap at the year’s second major.

“This should be a celebration, right? He won a major championship at 50 years old. It was possibly his last big, big moment in the game of golf,” said McIlroy.

“He should be — I think he should be here this week and celebrating what a monumental achievement he made last year. It’s unfortunate. It’s sad. I don’t know what else I can say.”

Without six-times major winner Mickelson in the field, this will mark the first time the reigning PGA Championship winner did not defend his title since 2008 when Tiger Woods missed out while recovering from knee surgery.

Mickelson’s public image took a hit when the author of an unauthorised biography said the American golfer told him he was willing to look past Saudi Arabia’s human rights record to gain leverage with the PGA Tour.

Saudi Arabia’s government has denied accusations of human rights abuses and Mickelson later apologised for the comments, which he claimed were off the record, and then said he planned to take time away from the sport.

Mickelson last appeared in a PGA Tour event in February and not has not stated when he plans to return to competition. A number of his sponsors have since cut ties with him.

(Reporting by Steve Keating; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto)

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