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Phil Mickelson to return for first Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series event

Phil Mickelson, shown Aug. 19, 2021, was added to the field for LIV Golf's first tournament, which is scheduled to start Thursday at Centurion Club near London. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/4553d91b259503349ad601a38fd80646/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Phil Mickelson, shown Aug. 19, 2021, was added to the field for LIV Golf's first tournament, which is scheduled to start Thursday at Centurion Club near London. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- After a four-month hiatus, six-time major championship winner Phil Mickelson is set to make his return to competitive golf this week on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Mickelson was added to the field Monday for LIV Golf's first tournament, which is scheduled to begin Thursday at Centurion Club outside London.

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In a statement posted to his official Twitter account Monday, Mickelson said he still plans to compete in the four major championships moving forward. He didn't say whether he would compete in other PGA Tour events.

Mickelson told Sports Illustrated on Monday that he expects to play in this month's U.S. Open, which starts June 16 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

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"I am looking forward to playing the U.S. Open and I'll be there," Mickelson said. "I'm under the understanding that I'm able to play."

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The 51-year-old Mickelson hasn't played competitive golf since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He declined to play at the Masters and PGA Championship, an event he won last year.

Mickelson took a break from golf after his controversial comments about the PGA Tour's "obnoxious greed" and the Saudi Arabian financiers of the LIV Golf league caused widespread backlash.

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In his latest statement, Mickelson said he feels healthy and "more at peace" after being "engaged and intentional in continued therapy."

"I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start, one that is exciting for me at this stage of my career and is clearly transformative, not just for myself, but ideally for the game and my peers," Mickelson said. "I also love the progressive format and think it will be exciting for fans.

"Just as importantly, it will provide balance, allowing me to focus on a healthier approach to life on and off the course. I am incredibly grateful for what this game and the PGA Tour has given me. I would like to think that I have given back as well but now I am excited about this new opportunity."

Mickelson joins a 48-player field for LIV Golf's inaugural event that also includes two-time major champions Dustin Johnson and Martin Kaymer, as well as four other major winners: Sergio Garcia (2017 Masters); Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters); Graeme McDowell (2010 U.S. Open); and Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open Championship).

"Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation," LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said in a statement. "His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the globe cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him.

"He strengthens an exciting field for London where we're proud to launch a new era for golf."

LIV Golf, which PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has condemned, is prepared to offer staggering purses for its events -- the total prize money is $255 million this year, including $25 million for each of the seven regular-season tournaments -- that are the richest in pro golf.

The eight-event LIV Golf circuit will feature five tournaments played in the U.S. The second LIV event is set for July 1-3 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Ore.

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