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Tour stars have given their verdict on Phil Mickelson’s decision to withdraw from this week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Mickelson made history last year as the oldest golfer to win a major – but now won’t even defend his title amid the ongoing fallout over his comments about LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia.

The 51-year-old has faced heavy criticism, and has not played or spoken publicly since February, shortly after comments emerged where he admitted using the threat of the Saudi-backed rebel league for “leverage” over the PGA Tour.

However, according to a report by ESPN, some tour stars have insisted he deserves forgiveness.

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“We’re in a cancel culture right now,” said Mickelson’s friend Webb Simpson.

“If you say one thing, or somebody digs up something in your past, they cancel you. There have been many situations out here, and in sports, where a player might have done something wrong, sure we can all agree, but I would rather be in an environment where it’s a forgiveness culture, not a cancel culture.”

“Obviously, there were some things he said that people didn’t like,” added Charley Hoffman.

“It is what it is. You can’t take that back. He’s a leader in this game, and unfortunately he stuck his neck out and it got chopped off. Hopefully, he learned from it, and everybody respects him and cheers him on.”

Others were less willing to welcome Mickelson back into the fold immediately. Kevin Kisner claimed “a little bit of humble pie never hurts anyone”, while Harris English said he hoped the six-time major winner will be “gracious” when he makes his eventual return.

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Mickelson had been one of the names most heavily-linked with a switch to the controversial rebel tour, and had accused the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed”.

However, he was slammed when it emerged he had admitted to author Alan Shipnuck that his aim was to get “leverage” over tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

He filed a request for permission to play in the LIV series opener in London, but the PGA Tour has refused to release players.

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