'He's Being Crucified' - Gary Player Defends Phil Mickelson

Player was speaking at the start of the 2022 Masters, where Mickelson is absent from the field

Gary Player Defends Phil Mickelson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gary Player has come out in defence of Phil Mickelson, suggesting the reaction to his Saudi League comments were reflective of a "litigious and critical society" and suggested that he should be welcomed back into the golf community after admitting he made a mistake. 

Speaking after he was one of the honorary starters at the 2022 Masters, Player defended the six-time Major champion, who is absent from the field this week. "I have a special thought on Phil Mickelson. I think we live in a time now when we are such a judgmental society, a litigious society, a critical society, where people get crucified. The greatest PR man on the golf Tour in the last five or X amount of years has been Phil Mickelson. He has been the ideal man for a sponsor, for professional golf, for the public, the way he's handled the public, with dignity and with love.

"And he makes a mistake, which every one of you in this room have made a damn mistake. We all have. And he said he's sorry. But even the Lord God will forgive you of your inequities if you ask for forgiveness. And he made a mistake, and for everybody to be - I've heard him. I said, Hold your head up high. You've made a mistake. Everybody makes a mistake."

"And he should go on with his life. I think it's pitiful -- I actually made a statement on television. I said, If there's nobody that hasn't made a mistake, I'd like to invite anybody in the world to have lunch with me at Augusta, and if you haven't made a mistake, I'll have lunch with you, but I'll have lunch on my own. It's amazing. From the epitome of perfection, he's down there being crucified. It's not right. That's my opinion."

Mickelson is missing from the 2022 Masters field after he hinted at a break from golf amid the Saudi controversy back in February. Earlier this week, Augusta Chairman Fred Ridley disputed claims that Mickelson was disinvited from the event with former Masters champion Mickelson's name being a glaring omission from the field. 

Mickelson has had a few other former and current players defend him, with current Tour player Daniel Berger saying that Lefty "deserved a second chance." Since his statement apologising for his comments back in February, we've not heard from him about a potential return. The next Major is the PGA Championship in May which he will be looking to defend after winning in it in 2021. 

Dan Parker
Dan Parker

Dan is a Staff Writer and has been with the Golf Monthly team since early 2021. Dan graduated with a Masters in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and primarily looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides on the website. Dan was a custom fit specialist at American Golf for two years and has brought his expertise in golf equipment to a huge range of buyer's guides and reviews on the website. A left handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 9.8 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. His golfing highlight is shooting 76 at Essendon Golf Club on his first ever round with his Golf Monthly colleagues. Dan also runs his own cricket podcast and website in his spare time. 

Dan is currently playing: 

Driver: Ping G425 Max 

Fairway: Ping G425 Max 

Hybrid: TaylorMade Rocketballz 

Irons: Ping i59 (4-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: Wilson Staff Infinite Buckingham 

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 Pix