The PGA Championship will receive a major infusion of star power with Tiger Woods competing. However, Phil Mickelson won't be at Southern Hills Country Club to defend his 2021 victory.
Mickelson, who hasn't participated in a PGA Tour event since January, withdrew from the tournament field on Friday. His status with the Tour remains tenuous after making controversial remarks about welcoming Saudi Arabia's LIV Golf Invitational as a competitor despite the country's human-rights violations.
Mickelson's absence has become a popular talking ahead of the PGA Championship's opening round Thursday. When asked by reporters (via Yahoo) on Tuesday, Woods said he hasn't reached out to Mickelson and has a "very different opinion" than him on how the Tour should be run.
Per Bob Harig of Sports Illustrated, Woods said he'd welcome Mickelson back when he's ready to return despite their conflicting viewpoints.
"It’s always disappointing when the defending champion is not here,’" Woods said. “Phil said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the Tour and committed to the legacy of the Tour have pushed back against, and he’s taken some personal time, and we all understand that.
"But I think that some of his views on how the Tour could be run, should be run, been a lot of disagreement there. But as we all know, as a professional, we miss him being out here. He’s a big draw for the game of golf. He’s just taking his time and we all wish him the best when he comes back."
Woods made his own return at The Masters last month, his first event since a serious car accident in early 2021. He'll now tee off in a grouping alongside Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday morning.