'It's Sad' - Tour Coach On Mickelson Debacle

Speaking on Sky Sports, Claude Harmon III spoke passionately about Mickelson and his PGA Championship win in 2021

Harmon and Mickelson look on
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After the PGA of America announced that Phil Mickelson had withdrawn from the PGA Championship, it is still unclear if, and when, he will make his competitive return, with many believing it will be under the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series banner and not the PGA Tour.

Many have spoken about the situation with Mickelson, as the 51-year-old continues to take a hiatus from the game following controversial comments he made about the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia.

Gary Player has stated that Mickelson is "being crucified" for his actions, while Justin Thomas has said that the six-time Major winner “doesn’t owe the game of golf anything”. Now, another big name has had his say, with Major winning coach, Claude Harmon III, defending Mickelson in a passionate speech on Sky Sports.

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Speaking to Nick Dougherty at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Claude claimed that: "I'm just mad that we are in this situation," before adding: "Obviously, what has happened to Phil Mickelson has largely been self-inflicted and he is having to deal with the consequences of his own actions. But, it's thrown a really dark cloud over what I think is one of the great stories of, not just recent memory, but in the history of the game of golf and the history of the Major championships."

Following the opening statement, the American then spoke about Mickelson's historic victory at the PGA Championship last year, a tournament where he became the oldest Major winner at 50 years, 11 months and 3 days. 

"The way that Phil Mickelson played in his 50s last year, in a Major championship, in the last group, with the ultimate Major championship alpha male over the last three or four years, Brooks Koepka. He dominated Brooks, he won that tournament, nobody gave him that tournament.

"What was amazing about what Phil did last year, on the golf course, was that he didn't do it by being a crafty veteran and kind of do it the way he always did, he did it by playing the game the way the modern game is played. He was outdriving Brooks, he dominated through length and I just think the loser to me is the game of golf."

Mickelson hits a shot while Claude and Butch look on

Mickelson with Claude and Butch Harmon during the 2021 Open Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Throughout his career, Mickelson has worked with Claude's father, Butch. During their time together, the pair picked up 14 wins including the 2010 Masters and 2013 Open Championship. Despite splitting, the duo have remained good friends. 

Claude didn't stop there though with his statement. The American went on to speak about another individual that his father taught in his career, Tiger Woods, with Claude drawing comparisons between Mickelson and the 15-time Major winner.

"We're talking about all of this other garbage as opposed to what a great player and what a great champion like Phil Mickelson is doing on the golf course," explained the American. "In the same way that over the last three or four years we have gone through this with Tiger Woods as well.

"If you think about Phil and Tiger, they are both so dominant in this generation. They are icons in this generation and the talk is about more what is going on off the golf course than it is going on and, as a fan, regardless of whether you are a Phil fan or you're not, or whether you were one or you're not one now, I just think it is sad that this is what we are dealing with and this is what we have to talk about, as opposed to talking about Phil Mickelson coming and defending at the PGA in his early 50s."

Currently, it is unclear as to when Lefty will return to action, with the 51-year-old continuing his hiatus away from the game. It has been reported that Mickelson has signed an agreement to play in all eight Saudi-backed Series events, with the first getting underway at Centurion Club in early June.

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x