Phil Mickelson will not be on the PGA Tour for well-known reasons. Criticism of the Saudis led to his withdrawal from the tournament. One of the biggest, Tiger Woods commented on Mickelson's absence. "It's always disappointing when the defending champion is not here," Woods said for skysports.
"Phil [Mickelson] has said some things that I think a lot of us who are committed to the [PGA] Tour and committed to the legacy of the Tour have pushed back against. "He's taken some personal time, and we all understand that.
I think that some of his views on how the Tour could be run, should be run…been a lot of disagreement there. As we all know, as a professional, we miss him being out here. I mean, he's a big draw for the game of golf.
He's just taking his time and we all wish him the best when he comes back.
"I have not reached out to him. I have not spoken to him. A lot of it has not to do with I think personal issues. It was our viewpoints of how the Tour should be run and could be run, and what players are playing for and how we are playing for it.
I have a completely different stance on it."
Rory McIlroy commented on Mickelson's absence "This should be a celebration, right?" McIlroy said. "He won a major championship at 50 years old.
It was possibly his last big, big moment in the game of golf. I think he should be here this week and celebrating what a monumental achievement he made last year. It's unfortunate. It's sad." Jon Rahm is one of those who loved to see Mickelson at the tournament.
"As long as he's doing what is best for him, I can't truly say I'm unhappy. I would have liked to see him defend," Rahm said. "I know he's played good here in the past. But again, he's got to do what he's got to do."