Rory McIlroy Says Phil Mickelson Should Be in 2022 PGA Championship After Withdrawing

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 17, 2022

AL MUROOJ, SAUDI ARABIA - FEBRUARY 05: Phil Mickelson of The USA celebrates a birdie putt on the first hole during day three of the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 05, 2022 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)
Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy called Phil Mickelson's absence from the 2022 PGA Championship "unfortunate" and said he wished the golf legend was on hand to celebrate his 2021 title in the event.

"This should be a celebration, right?" McIlroy told reporters. "He won a major championship at 50 years old. It was possibly his last big, big moment in the game of golf. I think he should be here this week and celebrating what a monumental achievement he achieved last year.

"It's unfortunate. It's sad. Yeah, I don't know what else I can say."

Mickelson has not played on the PGA Tour since missing the cut at January's Farmer's Insurance Open. He has not played any competitive golf since making controversial comments about the Saudi Arabia government and PGA Tour.

“They’re scary motherf--kers to get involved with,” Mickelson told Alan Shipnuck of the Fire Pit Collective. “We know they killed [U.S. citizen and journalist 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? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."

Mickelson was among the golfers who were denied an exemption by the PGA Tour to play in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league's event next month in London. He is one of several players who have been linked to the new tour, but his comments have done seemingly irreparable harm to his public reputation and put his playing status in doubt.

"It's crazy," golfer Kevin Kisner told Mark Schlabach and Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN. "It's a pretty big fall. I can't imagine what he's gone through mentally and emotionally through that whole year. But a little bit of humble pie never hurts anyone."

Mickelson, 51, became the oldest player in history to win a major at last year's PGA Championship, a moment that was widely celebrated as a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. His seeming disappearance from public life, which has included the loss of numerous sponsorship deals, shows how quickly someone can fall because of their words.