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The feud between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour has engulfed and impacted pro golf so completely, it’s easy to forget how quickly it has all happened.
Next week, the senior statesmen of the PGA Tour Champions circuit will face off in the Tour’s season-ending finale, but it’s defending champion Phil Mickelson won’t be there.
Less than a year ago, Mickelson’s controversial comments about LIV and the Tour that set off a firestorm had yet to be revealed to the public. LIV Golf didn’t even exist yet. And Phil was preparing to win his second PGA Tour Champions event of the year — and fourth in 15 months — at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
It looked like Mickelson, whose 2021 PGA Championship trophy had yet to gather dust on his shelf, was settling into a long and storied second career on the PGA Tour’s senior circuit.
Little did we know that his Charles Schwab Cup Championship victory would turn out to be his last start. But once Mickelson made the jump to LIV Golf this summer, that once-unthinkable result became a reality, with the Tour banning all LIV golfers from competing in its tournaments.
That brings us to next week’s PGA Tour Champions finale, where the defending champion will once again be missing in action.
Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer has dominated the PGA Tour Champions for the better part of two decades, winning the season-long senior title six times, including last year, despite Mickelson’s triumph in the Cup Championship.
At this week’s TimberTech Championship in Boca Raton, Fla., Langer was asked to share his thoughts on Mickelson missing the finale, and he hinted that while he doesn’t have any hard feelings about it, Mickelson is simply facing the consequences of his decision to join LIV.
“Well, you know, we’re all there for our own reasons and Phil made his choice,” Langer said. “Whether it’s right or wrong, good or bad, I’m not going to comment on that.”
Langer went on to acknowledge that Mickelson’s absence will definitely impact the tournament, from the players to the fans who come out to watch
“We will certainly miss him. I think Phil is always an attraction when he plays golf, but I guess he made his choice and he won’t be there. There will be other players trying to fill his shoes.”
The 2022 Charles Schwab Cup Championship begins Thursday, November 10, at Phoenix Country Club in Phoenix, Ariz.