‘Be a man enough to stand up’: Major champ questions Phil Mickelson’s silence

Phil Mickelson, left, and David Duval at the 1999 Ryder Cup.

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Don’t get David Duval wrong. He says he’s disappointed in Phil Mickelson’s outburst. 

It’s just that Duval’s equally frustrated that Mickelson has said little since. 

“The silence is what is so loud right now,” he said Thursday. “You have so many strong things to say and then you’re not going to stand up and answer any questions to what you did say. That’s what we’re all waiting for. I mean, you have these feelings, be a man enough to stand up and answer the questions about it.”

Speaking from his analyst’s chair as part of ESPN’s coverage of the PGA Championship, Duval is as familiar with Mickelson as anyone. For a stretch, they were part of golf’s best: Duval won the 2001 Open Championship and became a world No. 1 (something Mickelson never reached); Mickelson won six major championships. His last came at last year’s PGA, where, at 50, he became the oldest to do so. 

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A year later, Mickelson is in a self-appointed exile. In February, he made controversial comments over his dealings with the Saudi-funded LIV Invitational Series, apologized in a statement released over his social media accounts and hasn’t been seen or heard from since — which includes a withdrawal from this week’s PGA. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the speculation. 

A question making the rounds at Southern Hills is when Mickelson could return, and on the broadcast, Duval said “he’s dug a hole that I struggle to see him getting out of.”

“Well, you know, like most everybody else, I was quite disappointed in what he said,” Duval said. “I think the remarks disparage everybody who came before him who built this wonderful, charitable product that does so much good, provides such a life for so many people and so many players and their families. That extends in their ability to do charitable works as well.

“You know, having just a statement sent out there that you can control answers nothing. Unfortunately, as you look at it, to me, he’s dug a hole that I struggle to see him getting out of. I don’t see the exit strategy, especially when you don’t address what it is you’re saying and what you meant by the words you had to say and really what was the entire point of what you’re trying to accomplish.” 

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Announcer Scott Van Pelt then asked Duval on the broadcast if from just the golf side whether the episode has been “a disappointment for him and the game, the oldest champion ever to win a major is not to here enjoy what he earned between the ropes a year ago.”

“It is unquestionably a massive disappointment to this great sport and the great fans of this sport,” Duval said. “What he accomplished last year at Kiawah, you could argue, might be the greatest victory in professional golf there’s ever been; it’s on that very short list. 

“Historical, unimaginable, certainly not anything that anybody expected to see have happening again and not to have that victory march, if you will — that, if you want to call it, a sendoff, whatever it may be — that he so rightly earned at Kiawah but then he just seemingly threw away a number of months back with his thoughts and his actions is just incredibly disappointing.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.