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Rory McIlroy backed Phil Mickelson to make a return to golf – and said the six-time major winner deserves “forgiveness”.

Mickelson is taking a break from golf following his recent behaviour, where he accused the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed” over the threat of a Saudi-backed breakaway competition.

It then emerged the 51-year-old had been among a group of players who hired lawyers to help construct the rival league’s operating agreement.

• Tour chief tells Saudi stars to ‘walk out the door’

In a soon-to-be-published biography by Alan Shipnuck, the reigning US PGA champion admitted to using the breakaway tour for “leverage” over the PGA Tour.

The reaction to his antics was overwhelmingly negative; but McIlroy, who previously criticised the comments, insisted Mickelson deserves another chance.

“This whole situation is unfortunate,” McIlroy said ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Phil will be back. He has done such a wonderful job for the game of golf and he has represented the game of golf very well for the entirety of his career.

“We all make mistakes and we all say things we want to take back.

• Mickelson admits using Saudi league for ‘leverage’

“We should be allowed to make mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

“Hopefully he comes back at some stage – he will – and people will welcome him back and be glad he is back.”

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