As with the Masters, past winners of the PGA Championship meet up before the tournament each year for a champions dinner. Two-time PGA champ Dave Stockton didn’t lose sleep over the fact that Phil Mickelson missed this year’s gathering.
Stockton, who won the PGA in 1970 and 1976, indicated Thursday that his peers were glad Mickelson wasn’t at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., this week, saying he would have distracted from the proceedings.
“It was a fun evening. Phil was not missed,” Stockton told reporters. “I think Phil would have been a big distraction whether he was here. The story here this week is the PGA.”
Stockton was referring to the controversy surrounding Mickelson, who has stayed out of the public eye since February, when he drew backlash for comments he made about the Saudi-financed LIV Invitational Golf Series in a book excerpt. After missing the Masters, Mickelson initially registered to play in the PGA but withdrew last Friday.
By and large, Mickelson’s younger peers did not agree with Stockton’s sentiment, saying throughout the week that they wished Lefty was there to defend his title. Mickelson became the oldest major winner in golf history last year when he won the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
“This should be a celebration, right?” Rory McIlroy said Tuesday. “He won a major championship at 50 years old. It was possibly his last big, big moment in the game of golf. He should be — I think he should be here this week and celebrating what a monumental achievement he achieved last year.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s sad.”