Phil Mickelson will no longer host The American Express PGA Tour event in La Quinta due to his contentious comments about a hypothetical Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway golf league and his perceived troubles with the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour announced on Saturday to The Palm Springs Desert Sun that Mickelson, who has served as event host since 2020, will not be returning in 2023. The Mickelson Foundation, which was established in 2019 solely to serve as the tournament’s charitable arm, will also no longer be a part of the event, according to the circuit. Officials from the PGA Tour declined to comment on any other aspects of Mickelson’s departure.
Mickelson, a Hall of Fame golfer who has won 45 PGA Tour events as well as six major championships, has been a regular visitor to the desert and the tournament. Since his first appearance in the tournament in 1993, Mickelson has won twice, in 2002 and 2004. In recent years, he has also had a residence in La Quinta.
Mickelson is one of numerous golfers who have indicated interest in the alternative league, which is financed by Saudi Arabia and led by former pro Greg Norman. However, Mickelson’s recent statements to writer Alan Shipnuck for a planned book about his motives for dealing with the Saudi tour provoked a torrent of criticism.
More: American Express renews its sponsorship of the PGA Tour event in the desert through 2028.
Mickelson told Shipnuck, who is authoring a biography on Mickelson due out this spring, that “they’re scary (bleeps) to be engaged with.” “We know they assassinated [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a dismal human rights record. People are executed for being gay in that country. Why would I ever consider it knowing all of this? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change the way the PGA Tour works.”
There will be further fallout after the apology.
After a few days of silence following the quotes, Mickelson apologized for his remarks and reiterated his conviction that the PGA Tour’s structure needed to alter. Mickelson also stated that he assumed the remarks were made off the record.
“Throughout this process, my actions have always been in the best interests of golf, my colleagues, sponsors, and fans,” Mickelson said earlier this week in a statement. “I used words that I deeply regret since they did not accurately reflect my true sentiments or intentions.” It was rash, I insulted people, and I apologize profusely for my choice of words.”
Long-time sponsors of the 51-year-old Mickelson, such as KPMG and Workday, have broken ties with the World Golf Hall of Famer since Mickelson’s apology. In addition, on Friday, equipment manufacturer Callaway called a halt to its partnership with Mickelson. In his apology message, Mickelson stated that he will take an unspecified amount of time away from the game to focus on himself, his family, and the people around him.
The American Express, which was played for the 63rd time last month over three holes in La Quinta, is unaffected by Mickelson’s departure from the Coachella Valley tournament.
The PGA Tour has a direct contract with American Express, which confirmed last month before the tournament that its title sponsor relationship will be extended through 2028. The tour will need to find a new host group to act as the event’s charitable arm, which has donated $63 million to desert organizations since its inception in 1960.
While Mickelson’s withdrawal from the tournament may have been accelerated by his inflammatory statements, there were signs that he was already withdrawing from the competition at last month’s event. Mickelson did not make a pre-tournament press conference, as he had done the previous two years, and he did not present the trophy to winner Hudson Swafford after the final round.
Linda Evans, the mayor of La Quinta and a board member of the Mickelson Foundation, said she was unaware of the tournament alterations. She went on to say that she understands that American Express and the PGA Tour are committed to the La Quinta tournament regardless of who runs it, and that her focus is on raising money for local organizations.
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