US PGA Championship: 'Nobody has done more for the Tour than he has' – Rahm believes Mickelson's legacy is intact

By Sports Desk May 19, 2022

Phil Mickelson's legacy has not been ruined by his contentious comments regarding the LIV Golf Invitational, according to Jon Rahm.

Mickelson has not played since February after he was criticised for comments about the Saudi Arabian-backed breakaway competition, which holds its first event in London next month.

The 51-year-old apologised for those comments and decided to take a break from golf, though he was one of a number of high-profile players to then request a release from the PGA Tour for the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club from June 9 to 11.

Mickelson's representatives confirmed at the time that he had not definitively decided on playing in the tournament, or indeed the US PGA Championship, which tees off on Thursday in Tulsa.

The American is the reigning champion, having become the oldest player to win a major when he triumphed at Kiawah Island in 2021, but last week the tournament organisers confirmed he had withdrawn.

While Mickelson's withdrawal may well boost the chances of Rahm winning at Southern Hills Country Club, the world number two is sad not to see one of golf's biggest stars at the event.

However, he believes six-time major winner Mickelson should be able to return to the PGA Tour when he sees fit.

Rahm told Sky Sports: "He's given his life to the sport. Nobody has been better to the fans over a 30-year span and nobody has done more for the Tour than he has, right.

"Obviously Tiger [Woods] took his game to many places, but Phil won over 40 events and six majors.

"That characteristic smile and thumbs up are synonymous with Phil Mickelson. It's a name that is known worldwide.

"I don't think that a couple comments at the wrong time should dictate the legacy of a man.

"If anything, we're in America, the land of opportunity, right? If there's a place where things can be forgiven, and you can get back to where you need to be, it's here. I think given time and the proper course of action, that can happen."

That being said, Rahm understands that Mickelson ultimately brought the criticism on himself.

"He said what he said, he brought it on himself, so it needs to come from him to take it back to where it should be," Rahm added.

Related items

  • PGA Championship: Scheffler unsure if arrest a factor after 'hectic' weekend PGA Championship: Scheffler unsure if arrest a factor after 'hectic' weekend

    Scottie Scheffler is unsure whether his arrest on Friday was a factor after a disappointing Saturday led to him finishing tied for eighth at a "hectic" PGA Championship.

    On Friday, world number one Scheffler was arrested outside Valhalla Golf Club ahead of his second round.

    It subsequently emerged that he faces charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

    Scheffler shot a five-under 66 in the delayed second round, one stroke better than his first round, but a two-over 73 on Saturday all but ended his hopes of back-to-back major wins.

    Xander Schauffele ultimately claimed his first major title at 21 under, eight shots ahead of Scheffler.

    Speaking after Sunday's final round, in which a run of seven birdies in 10 holes helped him card a 65, Scheffler said he was proud of the way he finished the event. 

    "I think 'hectic' would probably be a good description," Scheffler said. "I'm fairly tired, definitely a lot more tired than I have been finishing some other tournaments.

    "I'm proud of today how we went out there and fought. I got off to a slow start and I was able to get some momentum and post a good round.

    "Yesterday obviously was quite frustrating and a bit of a different day, but overall proud of how I fought this week. Was fortunate to be out here competing, doing what I love."

    Asked whether his arrest had an impact on his performance, Scheffler said: "It's hard to tell. I think I would attribute it mostly to a bad day. 

    "I think when you come out here to compete, you're doing what you can throughout the course of the round to post a score and I wasn't able to get that done yesterday.

    "Did I feel like myself? Absolutely not. Was my warm-up the way it usually is and the distractions the way they normally are? Absolutely not. 

    "I got arrested Friday morning and I showed up here and played a good round of golf. So I've been good throughout my career at leaving the off-course distractions at home and keeping a pretty quiet personal life.

    "I'm not going to sit here and say that I played poorly yesterday because of what happened on Friday. I just had a bad day out on the course and was proud of how I came out here and bounced back today."

  • PGA Championship: McIlroy 'feeling good' about game despite wait for elusive fifth major PGA Championship: McIlroy 'feeling good' about game despite wait for elusive fifth major

    Rory McIlroy feels positive about his game despite a continued wait to win an elusive fifth major championship.

    Xander Schauffele secured a maiden major victory by winning the PGA Championship at Valhalla, which was the venue for McIlroy's last major triumph in 2014.

    McIlroy finished in a tie for 12th place and has often come close, recording 20 top-10 finishes in majors since winning his last, which is more than any other player during that span.

    He had won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the Wells Fargo Championship coming into the second major of 2024 and, despite falling short, still feels things are trending in the right direction with the U.S. Open and The Open Championship to come this year.

    Asked about the state of his game, McIlroy said: "I'm feeling good about that.

    "I have been on a big stretch of golf here. I think this was my sixth event in seven weeks. I've got a week off and then I'm playing another four in a row.

    "I'm feeling good about my game. I feel like things are sort of clicking more, especially after the win in New Orleans. 

    "Obviously played well last week in Charlotte. Have a week here to sort of reset and try to get going again."

    McIlroy was in contention for glory after carding a five-under 66 on the first day at Valhalla.

    But he ultimately finished nine strokes behind Schauffele, as a difficult 71 on day two was followed up with creditable scores of 68 and 67 over the weekend’s play.

    McIlroy looked poised for another top-10 finish before finding the water twice on Sunday, but still emerged at four under for the day with seven birdies and three bogeys in an up-and-down final round.

    He continued: "Obviously I started the week well, and then I've obviously played decent over the weekend.

    "That six-hole stretch on the back nine [on Saturday], not being able to hole any putts, I'll probably rue that.

    "Then the 71 on Friday, as well, was obviously not what I was looking for. Obviously put myself too far back. 

    "Overall I am playing solid, game is in good shape, and I've got a week off and then another busy stretch coming up."

  • PGA Championship: Schauffele 'captured the moment' with maiden major victory PGA Championship: Schauffele 'captured the moment' with maiden major victory

    Xander Schauffele says that he captured the moment during his PGA Championship win after handling the big moments better than he had in the past.

    Schauffele won his maiden major victory with a dramatic one-shot win at Valhalla, Kentucky on Sunday, making history as he finished 21 under, the lowest 72-hole score in men’s major history.

    He held off late challenges from Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland to secure the Wanamaker Trophy after carding a 65 on the final day.

    "It feels amazing," Schauffele told reporters after his win.

    "Winning, I said it earlier, is a result. This is awesome, it's super sweet, but when I break it down, I'm really proud of how I handled certain moments on the course today, different from the past."

    "I was pretty nervous. I don't really remember it [the birdie putt] lipping in, I just heard everyone roaring and I looked up to the sky in relief.

    "I really did not want to go into a play-off with Bryson. Going up 18 with his length, it's not something that I was going to have a whole lot of fun with.

    "I was able to capture that moment there... I just kept telling myself I need to earn this, earn this and be in the moment, and I was able to do that."

    Despite lifting the trophy, Schauffele believes that he still has work to do to reach Scottie Scheffler.

    The world number one had a turbulent week, which saw him arrested ahead of the second round on Friday, and he finished joint-eighth.

    "All of us are climbing this massive mountain and at the top of the mountain is Scottie Scheffler," Schauffele added. "I won this today, but I'm still not that close to Scottie Scheffler in the big scheme of things.

    "I got one good hook up there in the mountain up on that cliff, and I'm still climbing. I might have a beer up there on that side of the hill there and enjoy this, but it's not that hard to chase when someone is so far ahead of you."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.