‘We did not disinvite Phil’: Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley comments on Phil Mickelson controversy
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, said the club did not tell Phil Mickelson to stay away from the 2022 Masters amid Mickelson’s controversial comments made two months ago.
Speaking at his annual state of the Masters press conference on Wednesday, Ridley said, “We did not disinvite Phil.”
Ridley added that Mickelson reached out to him via text message in late February or early March and told him he wouldn’t play.
“I thanked him for his courtesy in letting me know,” Ridley said. “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, and he thanked me, and we had a very cordial exchange.”
Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion and last year’s PGA Championship winner, tweeted a statement on Feb. 22 saying he was taking some time away from the game. This came shortly after he made controversial comments regarding the new Saudi-funded golf league and was publicly condemned by many of his peers.
On March 21, Augusta National confirmed Mickelson withdrew from the Masters but didn’t elaborate.
“In Phil’s case, he made a personal decision,” Ridley said. “I don’t know anything beyond that. I know that Phil has been a real figure here at the Masters for many, many years. He’s been a big part of our history. We certainly wish him the best sort of working through the issues he’s working with right now.”
In an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck’s upcoming Mickelson biography, published on The Fire Pit Collective on Feb. 17, Mickelson ripped the PGA Tour and touted himself as a pillar of the start-up league, despite saying the Saudi group behind it are “scary mother——-s to get involved with.”
“Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it?,” Mickelson told Shipnuck. “Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They’ve been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won’t do what’s right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I’m not sure I even want [the league] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour.”
Mickelson has won six major titles and three Masters, in 2004, 2006 and 2010.