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Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods – Phil Mickelson’s absence from 2023 PGA Championship ‘sad’ and ‘disappointing’

Rory McIlroy's 7-under 65 good for early spot atop leaderboard in golf tournament at Bay Hill

TULSA, Okla. — Rory McIlroy described Phil Mickelson‘s absence from the 2023 PGA Championship as “unfortunate” and “sad” Tuesday morning at Southern Hills Nation Membership and talked about he wished the defending champion had made a particular decision and can be found to the championship.

“This must be a celebration, correct?” McIlroy talked about. “He obtained a severe championship at 50 years earlier. It was in all probability his ultimate large, large second throughout the recreation of golf. I imagine he must be proper right here this week and celebrating what a monumental achievement he achieved ultimate yr.”

McIlroy paused as he weighed how his phrases could be obtained.

“It’s unfortunate,” he talked about. “It’s sad. Yeah, I have no idea what else I can say.”

Talked about 15-time predominant champion Tiger Woods: “It’s always disappointing when the defending champion won’t be proper right here. Phil has talked about some points that I imagine numerous us who’re devoted to the tour and devoted to the legacy of the tour have pushed once more in opposition to, and he’s taken some non-public time, and all of us understand that.

“Nevertheless as everybody is aware of, as educated, we miss him being out proper right here. I indicate, he is a gigantic draw for the game of golf. He’s merely taking his time, and all of us need him the perfect when he comes once more.

“Clearly, we can have distinction of opinions, how he sees the tour, and we’ll go from there.”

Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, known as Mickelson’s absence “the elephant throughout the room.”

“Look, no one was further excited than us ultimate yr when Phil had his epic win, correct? It’s excellent. He’s achieved one factor nobody else has ever achieved and win a severe at 50. It was one in every of many good moments in golf, and we’ll in no way sort of neglect it. We truly appeared forward to him defending.

“He’s not proper right here. It’s his choice,” Waugh added. “He and I’ve had some conversations sooner than, all through and after, and I can truly say that on Friday his camp known as and talked about he isn’t capable of play. Clearly we respect that. We understand it. We wish nothing nevertheless the perfect for him and Amy. He’s going through tons. I don’t even have a whole lot further to say. We’re disenchanted he isn’t proper right here, and as soon as extra, need him all the perfect.”

Mickelson grew to grow to be golf’s oldest predominant champion by worthwhile the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina at age 50 ultimate yr. He hasn’t carried out on the PGA Tour since missing the decrease on the Farmers Insurance coverage protection Open at Torrey Pines in late January. He skipped the Masters in April for the first time in 27 years and had carried out in every PGA Championship since 1992, worthwhile twice.

Mickelson talked about, in a February assertion, that he is taking time away from golf after his controversial suggestions regarding the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian financiers of a breakaway circuit had been revealed by creator Alan Shipnuck, who wrote an unauthorized Mickelson biography that was launched this week.

Mickelson, popularly usually often called “Lefty,” criticized the PGA Tour for its “greed” and talked about he was wanting earlier the Saudi Arabian monarchy’s alleged human rights violations to appreciate leverage with the tour.

Jon Rahm — who, like Mickelson, carried out at Arizona State — talked about he wished the six-time predominant champion had been proper right here.

“Phil has obtained to do what Phil has obtained to do,” Rahm talked about. “He’s good good friend of mine. I’m unable to keep in mind the ultimate time a severe champion didn’t defend a title. Nevertheless he’s obtained to do what’s best for him. That’s all I can say. I’m unable to say it makes me unhappy.

“As long as he’s doing what’s best for him, I’m unable to truly say I’m unhappy. I might have favored to see him defend. I do know he’s carried out good proper right here before now. Nevertheless as soon as extra, he’s obtained to do what he’s obtained to do.”

Since 1960, solely 5 predominant champions have not defended their title the following yr. Sooner than Mickelson, none of them did so willingly. Paintings Wall missed the 1960 Masters with a kidney ailment and knee harm. Payne Stewart was killed in a airplane crash sooner than the 2000 U.S. Open. Woods missed the 2008 PGA Championship when he elected to revive a torn ACL. McIlroy missed the 2015 Open Championship recovering from a extreme ankle sprain he incurred whereas having fun with soccer with friends.

Mickelson did not issue an announcement explaining why he was skipping the PGA Championship; he merely educated the group he wouldn’t be throughout the topic.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach contributed to this report.