Masters chairman addresses Phil Mickelson absence

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson's absence from this week's Masters Tournament was his decision, according to Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.

Mickelson, the reigning US PGA champion, is missing from the opening men's major of the year for the first time since 1994.

As a three-time winner of The Masters, the left-hander has a lifetime exemption to play in the tournament.

However, it was announced last month that he would not be participating this year as he continues to take a leave of absence from the game following incendiary remarks he made about both the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian bankrollers of Greg Norman's new start-up golf tour.

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Mickelson was widely condemned for accusing the PGA Tour of "obnoxious greed" and for branding the Saudis "scary motherf*****s to get involved with".

That led to speculation that he was asked not to play in this year's Masters.

Not so, according to Ridley.

Addressing the media on the eve of this year's tournament, he said: "First, I would like to say we did not disinvite Phil. Phil is a three-time Masters champion and is invited in that category and many other categories. He's the defending PGA champion. 

"Phil reached out to me - I think it was in late February, early March - and let me know that he did not intend to play. That was by way of a text. 

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"I thanked him for his courtesy in letting me know. I told him that we certainly appreciated that and 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."

Ridley added that Mickelson had made "a personal decision" not to play.

"Phil has been a real fixture here at the Masters for many, many years. He's been a big part of our history. I certainly, and we certainly, wish him the best sort of working through the issues he's dealing with right now. "

Mickelson last missed The Masters in 1994 when a broken leg sustained whilst skiing forced him to sit it out.

He has played in 29 editions of the tournament to date, winning in 2004, 2006 and 2010. He has missed the cut only three times, most recently in 2016.

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