Phil Mickelson won't play Senior PGA in Benton Harbor, but major field is 'fantastic'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Benton Harbor — At some point, Phil Mickelson will play golf again, in front of fans. 

That might come next week at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Oklahoma, where he has registered to be in the field, though there is no guarantee yet that he actually will tee it up.

This much we do know: Mickelson will not play in the Senior PGA Championship, set for the following week, May 26-29, at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores. Tournament officials confirmed this week that Mickelson did not register before the deadline at the end of March.

Mickelson, 51, has won three of his four Champions Tour starts, but he hasn't played the tour since October. He hasn't played in any tournament since the beginning of February, when comments he made dismissing the human-rights atrocities of Saudi Arabia were made public.

Phil Mickelson has won three of his four Champions Tour starts, but he hasn't played the tour since October.

Senior PGA Championship officials didn't want to comment on Mickelson, whose comments, as Saudi blood money is funding a rival tour to the PGA Tour, cost him millions in sponsorships. Mickelson's stock with the public has gone from the high of winning the 2021 PGA Championship at the age of 50, to this all-time low.

"He did not register for the event," said Brandon Haney, championship director for the Senior PGA Championship. "Our field is fantastic."

Haney said the field will consist of 27 major championship winners and 11 former Ryder Cup captains, including all the 50-and-older circuit's mainstays.

The field will include several new faces from the last time Benton Harbor hosted the Senior PGA Championship, in 2018. 

The tournament was canceled in 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was difficult. That would've been my first championship here, so we're ready to go, we were geared up, and when they pulled the plug in April, it definitely took the wind out of our sails," said Joshua Doxtator, general manager of the golf club.

"For our team, for the community, this is exciting. It's been a four-year hiatus."

The Senior PGA has been at Harbor Shores, which opened in 2010 and was designed by Jack Nicklaus, four times — in 2012 (Roger Chapman), 2014 (Colin Montgomerie), 2016 (Rocco Mediate) and 2018 (Paul Broadhurst). It's the second of five majors on the Champions Tour schedule.

Harbor Shores also will host the tournament in 2024.

While losing the tournament in 2020 was a blow, not just to the club, but to the community which benefits financially, there is renewed momentum over the upcoming 2022 tournament, officials said. Because of the thirst for major golf to return to the area, plus the increased interest in golf amid the pandemic, officials are hoping for 60,000 fans over the course of the four-day tournament.

Tournament officials also are excited about the new golfers in the field since the club last hosted the tournament four years ago. Among those who have turned 50 since Harbor Shores last hosted, outside Mickelson: Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang and David Duval. Fan-favorite John Daly also is expected in the field, as is the ageless wonder, Bernhard Langer, 64, and several of the tournament's past champions. Lake Orion native Tom Gillis also will be in the field.

"Our field is truly spectacular," Haney said earlier this week, standing on the clubhouse patio on a gorgeous sunny afternoon. "Really, truly, everyone who is playing on the Champions Tour will be here."

The Senior PGA is the first of the year's major golf tournaments in Michigan, followed by LPGA Tour stops in suburban Grand Rapids and Midland in June and July, respectively, the PGA Tour stop in Detroit in July, and the Champions Tour stop in Augusta. The Epson Tour, the LPGA Tour's developmental tour, also will have tournaments in Ann Arbor and Harris in June and in Battle Creek in July.

Senior PGA Championship

When: May 26-29

Where: The Golf Club at Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor

Defending champion: Alex Čejka

Tickets: Starting at $30;

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984