When Will Phil Mickelson Return To Golf?

According to Alan Shipnuck, it seems that the Masters 'will be his first tournament back'

Mickelson hits a bunker shot
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For a near three decades Phil Mickelson has been one of golf's biggest draws, with his entertaining and swashbuckling style on the course garnering fans from all around the world.

However, following his recent controversial comments about the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia (opens in new tab), the 51-year-old has decided to take a break from the game (opens in new tab), with no real sign of when a return will likely happen.

Now though, according to Alan Shipnuck, the author of the upcoming book: ‘Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar’, (opens in new tab) a Mickelson return could be happening sooner rather than later...

Mickelson hits a tee shot

Mickelson hits a tee shot during the 2022 Saudi International 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In a Q+A with Fire Pit Collective (opens in new tab), Shipnuck answered an array of Mickelson-based Twitter questions that had been put to him by users, with the first asking "do you think we’ll see Phil at the Masters? And what do you think the fan support will be?"

The response from the author and journalist gave a pretty clear idea of when he thinks Mickelson will be back, with Shipnuck responding: "Yes, I think that will be his first tournament back, an eerie throwback to Tiger Woods in 2010."

He went on to add "Augusta National (opens in new tab)is the perfect place for a golfer engulfed in scandal to return to public life. It’s a highly controlled environment, with members of the print media forced to be on their best behaviour and the broadcasters compelled to speak in feel-good pablum. 

"Mickelson can hide out in the champions’ locker room as much as he needs. It’s also a course and a club that Phil loves and where he feels comfortable. I think he will get a rapturous reception (provided he doesn’t enlist with the Saudis between now and then).

"Sports fans love a comeback and a redemption story. In recent years Mickelson had become something of a cartoon character, preening about his calves and “hellacious seeds” and all that jazz. A more humble and human Phil will be wildly popular."

Woods waves after making birdie

Woods returned at the 2010 Masters following the Thanksgiving evening in 2009 when he hit a fire hydrant and a tree.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Along with Shipnuck's comments, it may be worth noting that Mickelson will likely return to Augusta National because he has a lifetime exemption into the event, having claimed the 'Green Jacket (opens in new tab)' three times throughout his career. Not only that, but Lefty is also a current Major champion, having picked up the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in 2021. 

If Mickelson were to make an appearance at Augusta National, it will be without some of his sponsors, with KPMG (opens in new tab), Amstel Light and Workday (opens in new tab) all dropping their support for the American over the past week. For Shipnuck though, the "fleeing" of sponsors came as a surprise. (opens in new tab)

Tweeting: "I’m surprised all these companies are fleeing Phil. Saudi Arabia is certainly toxic but it’s also now part of the Euro and Asian Tours. What were Phil’s crimes? Hardball negotiations, sure. Disloyalty to the Tour? Maybe. Profanity? Who cares. They don’t feel like capital offenses." Shipnuck also released another tweet at a later date, mentioning how Nike stayed by Tiger Woods' side throughout 2009 and 2010.

Shipnuck does admit though that: "It has certainly been hard to watch his downward spiral," adding "I’m not by any means dancing on Mickelson’s grave. This time of reflection evokes Dustin Johnson’s leave of absence in 2014; DJ came back a better player and person, and I wish the same for Mickelson. 

"It has been uncomfortable for me to be at the centre of this story. I knew there would be blowback, but my job is to enlighten golf fans. The professional game is at a crucial crossroads; all of this time, the key questions surrounding the Saudi seduction have been, What does Phil want? What is in his heart and his head? It was a mystery to everyone but me. 

"With the SGL on the verge of being publicly announced (opens in new tab), it didn’t feel right to bury Mickelson’s true feelings in the book for three more months, Woodward-style. So I feel no guilt. It is not my job to do Mickelson’s bidding, or the PGA Tour’s, or Saudi Arabia’s. My only duty is to tell it like it is."

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.