Phil Mickelson: US PGA Championship defending champion withdraws from event

Phil Mickelson last played in February at the PIF Saudi International in Saudi Arabia
US PGA Championship
Venue: Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma Date: 19-22 May
Coverage: Live text updates of all four rounds on BBC Sport website. Radio 5 Live updates of rounds one and two. Saturday's round three live on Radio 5 Sports Extra from 20:00 BST. Sunday's final round on 5 Live from 21:00

Defending champion Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from next week's US PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, tournament organisers say.

The American, 51, became the oldest major winner in history last year when he won the PGA at Kiawah Island for his sixth career major title.

He has not played since February after criticism of his comments about the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

He subsequently missed the Masters for the first time in 28 years.

Mickelson lost multiple sponsors and saw his reputation tarnished after he criticised the Saudi regime, yet sought to use involvement with a Saudi Arabia-backed golf super league to gain leverage over the PGA Tour.

He had been named in the 156-man field for golf's second major of the year, which takes place from 19-22 May at Southern Hills.

The PGA of America wrote on Twitter:Latest news and information 🤬😝😔 external-link "We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship.

"Phil is the defending champion and currently eligible to be a PGA life member and we would have welcomed him to participate.

"We wish Phil and [wife] Amy the very best and look forward to his return to golf."

Australian Greg Norman is fronting the $255m (£207m) Saudi-funded LIV Golf competition, with the first of eight events taking place at Centurion Club, near London, in June.

Norman has said he expects to announce some of the field next week, during the build-up to the PGA Championship, with the final field set to be confirmed on 27 May.

Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are among the players who sought permission from the PGA Tour to play.

However earlier this week the PGA Tour refused to release players who wished to take part.

Like Mickelson, former world number Norman, 67, has also created controversy around the event when he told reporters "we've all made mistakes" as he fielded questions on Saudi Arabia's human rights record and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.