'Phil Was Not Missed' - Former PGA Winner On Champions Dinner

Dave Stockton feels reigning champ Mickelson would have been a distraction at the annual get together

The 2022 PGA Championship champions' dinner
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former PGA Championship winner Dave Stockton said Phil Mickelson “was not missed” at the champions’ dinner ahead of this week’s tournament. Stockton, who won the PGA Championship twice, in 1970 and 1976, said the presence of reigning champion Mickelson would have taken away from the PGA and the younger players.

“It was a fun evening,” said the 80-year-old, who won the first of his two titles at this year’s host course, Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Phil was not missed. I think Phil would have been a big distraction whether he was here - the story here this week is the PGA.”

Mickelson, who aged 50 made history in winning last year’s title at Kiawah Island, becoming the oldest ever Major winner, would normally be expected to play a big part in the dinner, but he has not teed it up since February after issuing a statement apologising for comments he made in relation to the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

While the likes of Tiger Woods have bemoaned Lefty’s absence this week, Stockton, who has been the driving force behind the PGA Championship’s champions’ dinner, was happy not to be sidetracked.

Tuesday’s dinner included the likes of Collin Morikawa, Jason Dufner, Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Rich Beem, and a man Stockton is tipping to do well this week, Rory McIlroy.

“I'd like to see McIlroy win his third PGA,” said Stockton. “He's had pretty good luck - when we worked together he won Congressional and the Open, where I won the second PGA. Then he wins it where I had the Ryder Cup there at Kiawah, and then he comes to Valhalla and wins where I was an assistant with Azinger, and now he comes here where I won my first. So I wouldn't be surprised if he pulls some magic out of a hat.

“The other one I would be rooting for would be Jordan Spieth. I'd love to see him get the Grand Slam. There wouldn't be two more people that would be more fitting to get it than for McIlroy to knock off his Masters bugaboo and Jordan to get the PGA here.

“But who am I ignoring? I'm ignoring Collin. I'm ignoring Rahm. All these guys. I think it's going to be a heck of a race to the end here. You're going to have to get lucky to win. You're going to have to play really, really good golf this week.”

Jeff Kimber
Jeff Kimber

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!