Phil Mickelson will skip the Players Championship as his hiatus from golf continues. 

Six-time major champion Mickelson was a notable absentee from the 144-player field that features 48 of the top 50 in the world rankings. 

The 51-year-old said in February he was taking some time away from the sport following the backlash to his comments promoting a Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League. 

Mickelson had suggested that although Saudi Arabia has "a horrible record on human rights", the threat of the potential breakaway competition could be used to "reshape how the PGA Tour operates". He subsequently apologised for making "reckless" comments. 

While Mickelson has yet to set a date for his return to action, it will not come at TPC Sawgrass next week. 

Harris English, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods were the only other qualified players not to commit to the competition. 

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy leads by two strokes after a first-round 65 that included an eagle at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida on Thursday.

McIlroy made six birdies and an eagle on the 16th hole to card a seven-under-65 with a bogey on the 11th the only blemish on his scorecard.

The Northern Irishman, who made 11 of 14 fairways, leads by two strokes from American trio Beau Hossler, JJ Spaun and Billy Horschel, with a group of six players one further shot back including Sungjae Im and Will Zalatoris.

“This is my fourth start of the calendar year. I’ve had one really good chance to win and probably one other half chance," McIlroy told reporters after day one.

"I feel like I’m playing well enough to have chances to win golf tournaments, but all you can ask of yourself is to keep putting yourself in those positions on Sundays and then you see where your game really is.

“Hopefully, this is another week where I put myself in a position where I can really see where my game is when the pressure is on.”

McIlroy's day was highlighted by his 41-foot putt for eagle on the par-five 16th hole.

"I played the par-fives particularly well, and that was the bulk of the score," said McIlroy who won at Bay Hill in 2018.

"I've said this all along: You can play within yourself here and still shoot a good score, I feel, if you're just disciplined and pick off the birdies where you're supposed to."

McIlroy is one of four players from the PGA Tour's top six, with world number one Jon Rahm struggling with an even round on the opening day - including falling short on a gimme putt - to be seven shots off the pace.

Viktor Hovland carded a three-under-round of 69, while Scottie Scheffler is two under after the first day.

Rory McIlroy says Phil Mickelson should be forgiven for his comments about a proposed Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League and welcomed back following a break.

Mickelson last month apologised for "reckless" remarks over a potential breakaway league.

The six-time major champion claimed the Super Golf League could provide players with "leverage" as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to "reshape how the PGA Tour operates".

Mickelson suggested he and several other golfers paid their lawyers to construct the proposed breakaway competition's agreement, even though he stated Saudi Arabia has "a horrible record on human rights."

The American faced a huge backlash and opted to take time away from playing golf after apologising.

McIlroy declared the Super Golf League "dead in the water" as he accused Mickelson of making "selfish, egotistical, ignorant" remarks.

Yet the Northern Irishman expects the 51-year-old to resume his career and wants the winner of the 2021 PGA Championship to be forgiven.

He said: "I think Phil has been a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf and still is a wonderful ambassador for the game of golf.

"It's unfortunate that a few comments that he thought he was making in confidence or off the record got out there – but this whole situation is unfortunate.

"Look, Phil will be back. I think the players want to see him back. He's done such a wonderful job for the game of golf, and he's represented the game of golf very, very well for the entirety of his career.

"We all make mistakes. We all say things we want to take back. No one is different in that regard. But we should be allowed to make mistakes, and we should be allowed to ask for forgiveness and for people to forgive us and move on.

"Hopefully, he comes back at some stage, and he will, and people will welcome him back and be glad that he is back."

Justin Burrowes held off the challenge of 15 other golfers including to win the Men & Men Senior 0-6 category by 11 strokes at the Caymanas Golf Classic on Sunday.

Burrowes posted seven-under-par 209 for the tournament after opening with a 75 but then carded back-to-back 67s to take the victory.

Zandre Roye shot scores of 69, 77, 74 for an overall score of 220 that saw him finish in second place. Meanwhile, 15-year old Ryan Lue 226 (79, 71, 76) and William Knibbs 226 (71, 76, 79) were tied for third and Sean Morris 230 (75, 79, 76) finished fourth.

The winner said afterwards that he enjoyed getting the victory but it was not easy.

“It was good. It was definitely a very long two days. It didn't really feel like two days, it felt like a whole week but it’s golf and I love playing golf so it’s not that bad,” Burrowes said afterwards.

“It definitely is tough walking 27 holes in one day but I just tried to enjoy it as best as possible. The first 18 holes, I did not play as well as I wanted to. I hit a lot of good shots but I didn't quite just get it done and after the first 18, I kind of just got it together."

Orville Christie emerged the winner among the professionals. He shot an overall score of 230 to finish ahead of Sean Green and Alan Graham, respectively. Christie shot 72 in his opening round and followed up with 79 in each of the final two rounds. Green, meanwhile, shot scores of 82, 78 and 78 for 238 while Graham shot 247 (84, 79, 84).

Like Burrowes, Christie said the tournament was challenging.

 “! have not been in any shape recently to be playing on a golf course like this but I should say it was pretty much okay but not very good,” he said.

“It’s really tiring because this golf course is very hilly and also it’s very humid and hot so I had to keep rehydrating myself, not happy with the score but I am happy with the win," he said.

Jodi Munn Barrow won the Ladies’ 36-hole tournament carding 75 and 80 for a total score of 11 over par 155.

“Saturday was very good. I was very pleased with Saturday. Today was a little bit scrappy. I think maybe with everything going on I got a little bit distracted today but its a work in progress so I will keep working at it and look forward to the next event," she said.

As president of the golf association, Munn-Barrow said she was pleased with the turnout.

“Our first tournament for the year, we had a very good turnout for the two days, over 70 participants so we are very pleased with that,” he said.

“The twist is that we now have our 0-6 category, which is our elite amateur golfers playing for world amateur ranking points so we have gotten all of our tournaments approved by the body and so when our amateurs play they can get world amateur points and this augurs well because we can then possibly field a team to the world amateur team championships which you can't do if you don't have people who are ranked in the system, so all events for the 0-6 will now play over 54 holes, either three days or over 27 holes each day on a weekend depending on whether the golf course will accommodate us.

 "We are actually in discussion with the Jamaica professional golf association to include the professionals when we have our events so that they too can get more practice and that will help then to augur well going into the Jamaica Open at the end of the year."

The top players in the other categories were Men 0-6 Blue tees - Narada Black 151 (72, 79) and William Lee 159 (83, 76).

Men & Men Senior 7-12 - Quentin Hugh Sam 165 (84, 81); William Mahfood (166 (82, 84) and Philip Gooden 167 (85, 82).

Men & Men Senior 13-24 - Courtney Cephas 195 (95, 100), Delroy Anderson 196 (103, 93), Aubyn Ferguson 198 (102, 96).

Men Super Senior - 151 (74, 77), Wayne Chai Chong 153 (75, 78) and Mike Boyd 158 (83, 76). Ladies 13-24 - Diane Hudson 186 (94, 92), Deborah Newnham 197 (103, 94) and Krystal Chung (214 (109, 105).

Junior Boys 14-15 - Lek Drummond 181 (91, 90); Junior Boys 11-13 - Shasa Redlefsen 185 (93, 92), Kemari Morris 186 (95, 91) and Cameron Coe 204 (103, 101).

Junior Girls 14-15 - Mia Cunningham 191 (88, 103) and Anoushka Katri 192 (98, 94) and the Junior Girls 11-13 - Alessandra Coe 215 (108, 107).






Tiger Woods did not play a single professional tournament in 2021 but still finished in first place in the PGA Tour's new Player Impact Program as its most popular player.

Woods, a 15-time major champion, broke bones in both of his legs in a car crash last February and has since been limited to a single unofficial appearance at the parent-child PNC Championship.

The 46-year-old has remained the source of considerable intrigue as he works his way back to fitness, however.

For that reason, Woods – golf's most famous name – won the inaugural Player Impact Program (PIP) in 2021, earning $8million for first prize ahead of old rival Phil Mickelson.

Revealing the results on Wednesday, the PGA Tour explained the PIP "measured the players who generated the most positive interest".

This considers the number of times a player appears in internet searches or news articles, their social media reach and engagement, television sponsorship exposure and their "general awareness score among broad United States population".

The PIP took into account the full year of 2021, meaning Mickelson came into contention after winning the PGA Championship at 50 to become the oldest major winner of all time. Second place was good for $6m.

In 2022, Mickelson's standing may be impacted by his controversial involvement in the Saudi-backed Super Golf League.

He led Rory McIlroy (third), Jordan Spieth (fourth), Bryson DeChambeau (fifth) and Justin Thomas (sixth) – who each took home $3.5m – last year.

Dustin Johnson (seventh), Brooks Koepka (eighth), Jon Rahm (ninth) and Bubba Watson (10th) closed out the top 10, earning $3m apiece.

Bryson DeChambeau described his battle with injury as "one of the hardest moments of my life" as he confirmed his withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Hand and hip injuries that forced DeChambeau to withdraw from the Saudi International this month have kept the world number 12 out of action.

And he will not make his return at the prestigious PGA Tour event at Bay Hill this week, pointing to a desire not to risk re-injury by playing again before he is 100 per cent.

Setting his sights on The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass next week, the 2020 U.S. Open champion said in a video posted on Twitter: "Man, it's a tough decision right now.

"I have a lot of work to do to get everything back into order for this week and I just feel like it's too short of time for me to get back to 100 per cent and playing at 100 per cent capacity.

"Right now, I'm like 90 per cent. I don't want to go out there and hurt myself even more, and not be 100 per cent ready for the rest of the season.

"I don't want to come back early and then have to take more time off.

"It's a hard decision I have to make right now, but I'm going to have to unfortunately not play this week.

"At this point in time, I've got to take another week off and I'm going to try and get back and play for The Players.

"Right now, I just can't risk going out there and having it reaggravate. This has been one of the hardest moments of my life.

"I'm not able to do much, yes although I can hit some golf balls, it's not comfortable or fully comfortable.

"It's a bit frustrating but I appreciate your support. I want to get back out there as soon as possible but it's just not ready yet."

DeChambeau won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year by one stroke ahead of Lee Westwood. That is his only victory since his sole major title at the U.S. Open two years ago.

The United States will be captained by Zach Johnson at next year's Ryder Cup in Italy.

Johnson, a two-time major winner, has represented the USA in five previous editions of golf's prestigious team event.

Having served twice as vice-captain, Johnson will succeed Steve Stricker as the USA aim to retain the Ryder Cup at the Marco Simone Golf Club.

The news was announced in a dramatic video released on the Ryder Cup's official social media channels.

"Where I'm from, you get behind your people, you push your own, you work hard and you wear where you're from as a badge of honour," says Johnson in the clip.

"As we look ahead to the next Ryder Cup, I see nothing but opportunity. To work hard, to get behind one another, and an opportunity to keep the cup.

"I know we're not supposed to win on European soil. Well, I'm used to 'not supposed to'. Not supposed to make it on tour, win two majors and certainly not supposed to make five Ryder Cup teams.

"But here's the thing, I love it when 'not supposed to's', do. And as your captain, you can bet that I'm gonna bring some of that home-cooked, hard-working, Iowa pride to the Ryder Cup."

The USA cruised to a 19-9 victory in 2021 at Whistling Straits, though they have not won in Europe since 1993.

PGA of America President Jim Richerson said: "I am confident that Zach's appointment will be wildly popular with the players as well as throughout American golf circles.

"But more than that, Zach is the calibre of individual that the PGA of America wants representing the United States and our 28,000-plus PGA Professionals on the global stage. He has performed on the biggest stages as a player, a teammate and as a vice-captain.

"He checks every conceivable leadership box and we anticipate that the U.S. Team in Italy will reflect the hard work, grit and selfless determination that have long defined his stellar playing career."

Johnson, 46, won The Masters in 2007 and The Open in 2015. He featured in the Ryder Cup in 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, though only tasted success as a player in the latter tournament.

"To accept this captaincy, to lead this United States Ryder Cup team abroad ー after what we accomplished last year at Whistling Straits ー is simply the greatest honour of my professional career," said Johnson, who has named Stricker as the first of his vice-captains.

"I want to thank the PGA of America Ryder Cup Committee for this special opportunity. As exciting as this is for both my family and me, it is equally sobering to understand the scope of our challenge in Rome, as we have not won on the road in three decades.

"To win, we will have to outplay a European team that will have both ample talent and motivation on their side. I am anxious to dig in and begin the process of putting our team in the best possible position to succeed."

Sepp Straka birdied three of the final five holes to clinch his maiden PGA Tour triumph after overnight leader Daniel Berger crumbled at the Honda Classic on Sunday.

Straka became the first-ever Austrian to win a PGA Tour title while he was the sixth first-time winner on the tour this season.

The 28-year-old Austrian started the final day tied for second in a group of four alongside Shane Lowry, Kurt Kitayama and Chris Kirk who were five strokes behind Berger.

But Straka carded a final-round four-under-66 highlighted by his late flurry in wet conditions at Palm Beach Gardens to win outright at 10-under overall.

"They were pretty tough [conditions]," Straka said after the win. "For a little while the wind let down before the rain started which was nice but on the last hole, that second shot into the green it started pouring rain. I was glad I could hit that one on the green two-putt."

Straka and Lowry went into the 18th hole tied at nine-under, but the Irishman could only make par, while the Austrian's two putt earned him the decisive birdie.

Lowry had led by as much as two strokes down the back nine but Straka surged with a fine approach on the 14th setting up birdie, while he sunk a birdie putt from off the green on the 16th to draw level.

Kitayama finished third at eight-under, with Berger's final-round four-over-74 seeing him slide from a five-stroke lead to three shots off the pace.

The American, who resides nearby to Palm Beach Gardens in Florida, saw him lead evaporate quickly, with a double bogey on the third hole, along with bogeys on the fifth and sixth.

Berger, ranked 20th on the PGA Tour, holed a clutch bunker shot on the seventh hole along with a chip for birdie on the 14th but could not do enough to retrieve his lead.

Florida native Daniel Berger moved five strokes clear ahead of the final day at the Honda Classic, matching the largest 54-hole lead in tournament history on Saturday.

The world number 20 had held a three-shot lead at the halfway mark but extended that with a one-under-69 following back-to-back 65s at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.

Berger led by as many as six strokes after sticking a brilliant tee shot for birdie on the par-three 15th hole before a bogey on the 18th hole.

The American leads from a group of four players tied on six-under, including Irishman Shane Lowry who carded a round of six-under-67 to move up the leaderboard.

Lowry is tied with Sepp Straka, Chris Kirk and day one leader Kurt Kitayama, with the latter two carding rounds of one-over-71 having been tied for second after the first two days.

“Obviously you want to go out and catch him tomorrow, but I don’t think you can go and catch anyone on this golf course," said Lowry, whose round was the best of the day with only 13 players above even.

“You just need to do your thing and shoot the best score you can and hopefully it will be somewhere near good enough."

Lowry's round included four birdies and a bogey, while he drained a 20-foot putt on the sixth hole to save par.

Canadian Adam Svensson is one stroke back from the quartet at five-under, before a three-shot gap to the next in the field.

Pre-tournament favourites Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen are both well back, at one-over and two-over overall respectively.

Hometown hero Daniel Berger opened up a three-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Honda Classic in Florida after carding six birdies on Friday.

Berger, who is ranked 20th in the world, backed up his opening day five-under 65 with a repeat score, highlighted by a 38-foot birdie putt on the par-three seventh hole, to be 10-under at Palm Beach Gardens.

The Florida native leads by three shots from Chris Kirk and first day leader Kurt Kitayama, the latter carding a one-under-69 to slip from the summit.

“Just one of those days when I kept the momentum going,” Berger told reporters. “I hit a lot of quality shots, even though they don't look like they're five feet from the hole, or 10 feet from the hole.

“I know that they're so difficult, that to hit it to 20 feet is a good shot. And that's the challenge for this golf course is the pins are tucked, the greens are firm, wind's up, so you have to be really on point with where you're going to miss.”

Mark Hubbard surged up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth alongside Canadian Adam Svensson with the pair carding rounds of 64 and 65 respectively to be six-under overall.

Pre-tournament favourite Louis Ousthuizen produced a strong round to avoid the cut, after his opening day five-over-75.

The South African is even after two rounds, behind Berger by 10 strokes, but managed six birdies on his back nine to stay in contention after a double bogey on the 11th hole seemed to condemn him.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is among a large group alongside Oosthuizen that are even after two rounds with the American carding a two-over-72.

Padraig Harrington, Brian Harman, Charl Schwartzel and last week's Genesis Invitational winner Joaquin Niemann were among those to miss the cut.

Kurt Kitayama managed four straight birdies on his back nine to claim the lead ahead of Daniel Berger in a group of three after the opening day of the Honda Classic in Florida on Thursday.

The little-known American carded a six-under-round of 64, starting the day with three straight birdies, before his hot run on his back nine at Palm Beach Gardens.

Kitayama has enjoyed a good recent period, making the cut at his past five starts before Thursday's impressive feat as solo leader.

"I think when you're struggling, I think just that self-motivation to find keep getting better and finding a way to figure it out, it's kind of how you've got to keep going," Kitayama told reporters.

The 29-year-old leads by one stroke from Rory Sabbatini, Chris Kirk and hometown hero Berger who are five-under.

World number 20 Berger started his round brilliantly, with three birdies on his first four holes, while he also sunk a 28-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole with no ill-effects from a back problem that has been plaguing him lately.

Slovakian veteran Sabbatini made birdie on the 18th to jump into a share of second, with Kirk having eight birdies and three bogeys in an entertaining round.

Danny Willett, Matthias Schwab, Andrew Kozan, Aaron Rai and Peter Uihlein are all next tied for fifth at three under.

Four-time major winner and current world number 15 Brooks Koepka managed three birdies in his round of two-under-68 to be four shots off the pace.

Last week's Genesis Invitational winner Joaquin Niemann had an even round of 70, despite leading early after four birdies on his front nine, with a double bogey holding him up on the fourth hole.

Pre-tournament favourite Louis Oosthuizen will battle to make the cut after five bogeys on the front nine before a double bogey on the 17th hole left him with a five-over-75.

Tiger Woods recently vowed the PGA Tour has not seen the last of him, but surely it has seen the best of him.

This week marks 30 years since a 16-year-old Woods took his first steps onto the professional circuit, the first patter of Tiger feet coming at the Nissan Los Angeles Open, at Riviera Country Club. It is the tournament now known as the Genesis Invitational.

He appeared as an amateur, on an invitation proposed by tournament director Greg McLaughlin, and went up against an elite field on the par-71 course.

Before teeing up with tour pros Bob Friend and Dicky Thompson, however, Woods played the pre-tournament pro-am in the company of Columbo actor Peter Falk. Just one more thing... to make his week memorable.

Woods had been touted for many years as a star in the making, having first caught the eye as a prodigious talent before starting school. He won the U.S. Junior Amateur title in consecutive years from 1991 to 1993 to underline that quality.

And while his first taste of life among the elite was not a triumphant experience, neither did Woods embarrass himself on February 27 and 28, back in 1992. It was clear to many that his talent had not been overstated, and barely five years later this student of the greens and fairways had graduated to become a Masters champion.

Scores of tournament wins have come Woods' way, and there have been storied crises off the course too, most recently with his car crash horror last February 23.

Here, Stats Perform winds back the clock three decades, and reflects on the career of an all-time sporting great.

How did Tiger get on?

By his latter-day standards, awfully. But for a kid, just fine. Woods shot 72-75 to be five over par, and that meant he was 17 shots behind leader Davis Love III through 36 holes.

Love went on to lose in a playoff to Fred Couples for the title, while Woods, who was then the youngest player to appear in a PGA Tour event, missed the cut.

Some 24 years later, Woods would serve as a vice-captain to Love on Ryder Cup duty, but in 1992 they were poles apart.

However, this was a taster for Woods of the life that awaited him, and as much as the cameras were trained on the fabled youngster, he remained a boy in a man's world.

It was said that he had grown from 5ft 6in in 1990 to 6ft 1in by 1992, a spurt that meant his physique was becoming the ideal complement for his natural talent, but the 16-year-old Woods was still somewhat scrawny. Like millions of young American boys across the country, he was within touching distance of adulthood, but still tantalisingly distant.

A crisp three-wood from the first tee set him on the way to a respectable opening round of one over par, before his game dipped slightly on the Friday.

What they said?

According to Sports Illustrated, Woods' father Earl said of his son's performance: "He was playing army golf: left, right, left, right.

"But he was getting up and down like a thief. He recovered and made pars from positions that Riviera hasn't seen in a long time."

Woods was braced for teasing from his fellow students at Western High in Anaheim after failing to make it into the weekend, but those around Woods knew the trajectory of his career was only going upwards.

Mother Kultida still urged expectations to be kept in check, telling the Los Angeles Times on day one of the tournament: "He’s just a kid, just 16. It's hard for people to understand that, because he has the ability. But playing here is just a test for Tiger, to see where he is at and how far he needs to go. Let him be a kid. He loves to play."

Tiger's verdict? 'I'm not ready for this'

"It was a learning experience, and I learned I'm not that good," Woods said after completing his second round. "I can play at the junior level, but I'm not good enough to compete at this level.

"You look up at the board and see 12 under. These guys are just too good. I just don't think I'm ready for this. I have a long way to go."

He also described the experience as "the greatest two days of my life", and in 2018, on his personal website blog, said it had been "very motivating".

"At the time," Woods explained, "I hadn't played amateur golf yet; just junior golf. I skipped the amateur ranks to play in one event. It made me more determined than ever to work on my game and improve."

Here's a fact that still jars with Woods: he has never won at Riviera, where nowadays he is the tournament host.

What became of his playing partners

Neither Friend (72-71) nor Thompson (69-78) made the cut, so it was hardly the most successful grouping of the week.

Friend had his most successful year as a pro in 1998, when he earned the only three top-10 PGA Tour finishes of his career. The highlight was a second place at the Bell Canadian Open, where he lost out to Billy Andrade in a playoff for the title. By that point, Woods was a Masters champion, and he did not compete that week at Glen Abbey.

Thompson had an 11th-place finish at the 1992 Buick Southern Open and signed off his career with just two top-10 results in a PGA Tour career spanning 1991 to 1998.

Both can tell a first-hand anecdote or two about Tiger Woods from that day though.

As Friend said, according to "The first [reaction] is, 'Oh man, this place is going to be a zoo'. People were all over the place.

"He was very much in his own bubble. We talked about school, 'How do you like school? What's your favourite subject?’.

"It was like playing with any other professional. Some guys talk. Some don't. He wasn't the least bit flummoxed by anything. He was very focused on what he was doing. He had the moxie of a guy who was a senior in college."

What now for Tiger?

As we know, the boy Woods went on to become the dominant golfing man of his generation.

With 15 majors among his record-tying 82 PGA Tour wins, his status as a sporting great is assured.

Woods also has 199 top-10 finishes on tour, and it might be more realistic to expect him to round that up to 200 than to imagine him winning again, as he battles to recover fully from the major leg injuries he sustained in an SUV roll that occurred in this week last year. He was fortunate to escape with his life, police said.

Woods said last week that he could not commit to returning to the PGA Tour in 2022, telling CBS: "You'll see me [again] on the PGA Tour, I just don’t know when.

"Trust me, I'd love to tell you I'll be playing next week but I don't know when, which is frustrating in that sense because I've been down this road too before with my back when I didn't know when I'd come back."

Whether he eventually does come back, or whether this is perhaps the end of the road for Woods the competitor, the world will be waiting and watching.

All those years ago at Riviera, he spoke of having "a long way to go". He went there, and then some.

Phil Mickelson has apologised for his "reckless" comments promoting the possible Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League, while he announced he will also take a break from the sport.

A number of high-profile golf stars were reportedly targeted by organisers of a lucrative alternative to the PGA Tour, including Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.

But most of the leading names – the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa – denounced the league, instead pledging their allegiance to the PGA Tour.

However, Mickelson was a vocal supporter of the new potential competition, claiming it could provide players with "leverage" as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to "reshape how the PGA Tour operates".

The American golfer went as far as suggesting he and several other golfers paid their lawyers to construct the proposed breakaway competition's agreement, even though he stated Saudi Arabia has "a horrible record on human rights."

Mickelson's comments prompted further backlash from McIlroy, who slated the claims, and the 51-year-old has now apologised for any offence caused by his antics.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mickelson said: "Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans.

"There is the problem of off-record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words I sincerely regret that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions. 

"It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words. I'm beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this.

"Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption. I have always known that criticism would come with exploring anything new. 

"I still chose to put myself at the forefront of this to inspire change, taking the hits publicly to do the work behind the scenes.

"Despite my belief that some changes have already been made within the overall discourse, I know I need to be accountable. 

"For the past 31 years, I have lived a very public life and I have strived to live up to my own expectations, be the role model the fans deserve, and be someone that inspires others."

Mickelson also suggested he would take a break from golf to focus on himself.

"I've worked to compete at the highest level, be available to media, represent my sponsors with integrity, engage with volunteers and sign every autograph for my incredible fans," he continued.

"I have experienced many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but I have often failed myself and others too.

"The past 10 years, I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level. I know I have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritise the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be."

Joaquin Niemann landed the second PGA Tour victory of his career by winning the Genesis Invitational title in California on Sunday.

The Chilean rounded off a dominant week at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, closing with a level-par 71 to finish two shots clear of American duo Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young.

After carding successive rounds of 63, Saturday's 68 gave Niemann a three-stroke lead heading into the final day.

The 23-year-old's total of 194 across the opening 54 holes set a new record, and by closing out the win on 19 under par he became the first wire-to-wire winner of the event since Charlie Sifford in 1969.

Niemann said on CBS: "This weekend, it took me forever. It felt like a month. I'm so happy it's finally done. I'm really proud of the way we battled, with my caddie.

"This is amazing and seeing the Chilean flag there makes me more speechless, it's awesome.

"It was such a nice week off the course, in the course. This has got to be one of the toughest courses we ever play in the year.

"I surprised myself with how good I played, and after the first two days I talked to myself and was like, 'All right, we've got to finish this, stay focused', and we did it pretty good, so I'm pretty happy."

As two-time major winner Morikawa clawed his way into contention with an impressive round of 65 – including a stunning eagle at the 10th – Niemann made a solid start until bogeying the seventh.

However, the world number 32 responded immediately, with a tremendous approach on the following hole paving the way for a birdie that put him back on track.

He then chipped in for eagle on the 11th as he edged closer to a first PGA title since triumphing at the Greenbrier Classic in 2019.

Successive bogies on the 14th and 15th set up a potentially nervy finish, but Niemann maintained his composure to seal victory.

A timely eagle on the final hole saw former Masters champion Adam Scott finish tied for fourth with Norway's Viktor Hovland, who was one under for the day.

Rory McIlroy declared the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway Super Golf League "dead in the water" as he accused Phil Mickelson of making "selfish, egotistical, ignorant" remarks.

A number of high-profile players are said to have been targeted by organisers of the lucrative proposal, including Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.

But the most prominent names to have discussed the league publicly – including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa – had pledged allegiance to the PGA Tour, and Johnson and DeChambeau joined them on Sunday, a significant turn of events.

Mickelson recently gave a remarkable interview to the Fire Pit Collective's Alan Shipnuck, in which the six-time major champion claimed he and several other golfers paid their lawyers to construct the proposed breakaway competition's operating agreement.

As Mickelson put it, the motivation was "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates", claiming Saudi money had provided "leverage" for negotiations.

Mickelson criticised PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, and McIlroy, speaking on Sunday after tying for 10th place at the Genesis Invitational, made clear his disdain for the 51-year-old's comments.

"I don't want to kick someone while he's down obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant, a lot of words to describe that interaction he had with Shipnuck," McIlroy said.

"It was just very surprising, disappointing, sad, and I'm sure he's sitting at home sort of rethinking his position and where he goes from here."

DeChambeau declared his commitment to the PGA Tour, stating: "While there has been a lot of speculation surrounding my support for another tour, I want to make it very clear that as long as the best players in the world are playing the PGA Tour, so will I."

Johnson also spoke out, saying: "Over the past several months, there has been a great deal of speculation about an alternative tour, much of which seems to have included me and my future in professional golf. I feel it is now time to put such speculation to rest. I am fully committed to the PGA Tour."

Asked if such players supporting the US-based PGA Tour would finish off the Super Golf League venture, McIlroy said: "Yeah, yeah. I mean, who's left? Who's left to go? There's no-one. It's dead in the water in my opinion. I just can't see any reason why anyone would go."

Four-time major winner McIlroy added: "I've always reiterated that I feel like this is the best place to play golf if you're an elite professional golfer."

He praised tour executives and welcomed the comments from DeChambeau and Johnson.

"I was really glad to see DJ and Bryson fill out those statements this week," McIlroy said. "We all want to play against the best players in the world, and they are certainly two of the best players in the world. It's nice to know that they're committed to playing here and committed to making this the best tour in the world."

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