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Rory McIlroy has said he hopes that Phil Mickelson is welcomed back to the game whenever he chooses to end his self-enforced break. Mickelson has courted enormous controversy in recent weeks with comments related to the Saudi Super League, including accusing the PGA Tour of "obnoxious greed".
Last week that all came to a head when the 51-year-old released a statement apologising for his comments and announcing he was taking a break from the game. The following days saw a wave of criticism head Mickelson’s way while he also lost some of his sponsors. However, speaking at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Mcilroy explained why Mickelson deserves forgiveness on his return.
“This whole situation is unfortunate. 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. We should be allowed to make mistakes and ask for forgiveness.”
McIlroy isn’t the only golf figure prepared to stand up for Mickelson. Two-time Major winner Tony Jacklin also defended him in the aftermath of last week’s statement. However, Mickelson’s supporters have been few and far between over recent days. Nevertheless, McIlroy’s comments, in particular, may be a sign that the tide could eventually turn back in Mickelson’s favour.
Despite the uncertainty over Mickelson's immediate future in the game, with no tournament announced for a comeback, McIlroy is convinced that he will be back at some point. He said: “Hopefully he comes back at some stage – he will – and people will welcome him back and be glad he is back.”
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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