Phil Mickelson, shown June 17, 2021, hasn't played in a PGA Tour event in more than two months. File Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo
April 6 (UPI) -- Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley said three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson pulled out of this year's tournament despite being eligible to compete if he wanted to.
Mickelson informed Ridley -- via text message -- in late February or early March that he wouldn't take part in this week's Masters.
"I would like to say we did not disinvite Phil," Ridley said during a news conference Wednesday. "Phil is a three-time Masters champion and is invited in that category and many other categories; he's the defending PGA champion.
"Phil reached out to me ... and let me know that he did not intend to play. That was by way of a text, and I thanked him for his courtesy in letting me know. I told him that we certainly appreciated that and, you know, told him that I was certainly willing to discuss that further with him if he'd like. He thanked me, and we had a very cordial exchange."
The 51-year-old Mickelson, who last year became the oldest major champion with his stunning victory at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., hasn't played in a PGA Tour event in more than two months. He last competed at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January, but he missed the cut.
Mickelson, who won the green jacket in 2004, 2006 and 2010, has been embroiled in controversy since mid-February, when author Alan Shipnuck released an excerpt from his upcoming unauthorized biography of Mickelson.
In the excerpt, Mickelson criticized the PGA Tour and said he was involved in designing the working agreement for a breakaway golf league being financed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.
The six-time major champion described the Saudis as "scary [expletives]," but he said he was looking past their controversial history of human rights violations to gain leverage with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.
Mickelson's comments garnered widespread criticism, including from fellow PGA Tour players. The backlash caused him to apologize days later.
"It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words," Mickelson wrote in his apology. "I'm beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this."
In response to Mickelson's comments, Callaway suspended its sponsorship with the star golfer. KPMG, Amstel Light and Workday each ended their partnerships with him.
Mickelson previously said he was taking time away from golf "to prioritize the ones he loves most and to work on being the man he wants to be."
Mickelson hasn't missed the Masters since 1994. It would have been his 30th Masters start.
"He made a personal decision, and I don't know anything beyond that," Ridley said Wednesday. "I know that Phil has been a real fixture here at the Masters for many, many years. He's been a big part of our history. I certainly and we certainly wish him the best sort of working through the issues he's dealing with right now."
Phil Mickelson poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 103rd PGA Championship at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C., on Sunday. Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI | License Photo