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Phil Mickelson faced the US media on home soil for the first time since his four-month spell away from the game and he endured a tough press conference that included a question on the letter he and other US golfers received from the 9/11 Families United group following the decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.
The letter was sent to the American LIV Golf players from Terry Strada, whose husband died in the 9/11 attacks. Mickelson was asked a long question about the letter, cutting off the journalist midway through before answering that he has "deep, deep empathy" for the Strada family and everyone that has lost loved ones.
"I would say to the Strada family, I would say to everyone that has lost loved ones, lost friends on 9/11 that I have deep, deep empathy for them," Mickelson said. "I can't emphasize that enough. I have the deepest of sympathy and empathy for them.
"I think I speak for pretty much every American in that we feel the deepest of sympathy and the deepest of empathy for those that have lost loved ones, friends in 9/11. It affected all of us, and those that have been directly affected I think, I can't emphasize enough how much empathy I have for them."
The 9/11 Families United group accused the five American golfers of “betrayal, not only of us, but of all your countrymen” and called it “absurd” to hope for rules exceptions to allow them to represent the USA in the Ryder Cup, calling on them to rethink their decision to sign with LIV Golf.
Mickelson opened up the press conference at Brookline with a statement to tell journalists that he understood and respected their feelings towards him and his recent decision to join LIV Golf.
"I know that many of you have strong, well, many people have strong opinions, emotions about my choice to go forward with LIV Golf. I understand, and I respect that. I'm incredibly grateful for the PGA Tour and the many opportunities it has provided me through the years, but I am excited about this new opportunity as well."
He makes his first Major appearance of the year after missing The Masters in April for the first time since 1994 and also skipping his title defence at last month's PGA Championship. He has famously never won the US Open and finished runner-up on six occasions.
VIDEO: THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT PHIL MICKELSON
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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