Earlier this week, Phil Mickelson announced that he was withdrawing from this week’s World Golf Championships Match Play that begins on April 29 and runs through May 3. Mickelson cited personal reasons for his withdrawal just days before the event.
On Sunday, the five-time major winter apologized that he would miss the event, which this year moves to San Francisco’s Harding Park. Mickelson added that TPC Harding Park is a great setting to have match play and therefore it is unfortunate that he would not be able to participate this year.
The left-handed American, who is 44, is the third player in the world’s top-64 that has pulled out of the WGC event. Luke Donald from England and Tim Clark from South Africa withdrew from the competition as well. With Mickelson withdrawing, a place opened for Mikko Ilonen, the world’s No. 68 ranked player from Finland to play in the prestigious event.
Since 1999, Mickelson has participated in the WGC Match Play on 11 occasions. He has been defeated during the first or second round on five occasions, while his best finish at the event was loss in the quarterfinals in 2004 to Davis Love III, a fellow American.
Mickelson has not participated at the event for the past three consecutive years and four of the past five.
The 44-year old Mickelson finished runner-up nearly two and half weeks ago at the Masters. His second place finish was the first time this season he has placed in the top-10, and his first runner-up since finishing second at the PGA Championship last year.
This season the WGC Match Play event his a different format that features round-robin play amongst 16 different groups of four players. Therefore, an early defeat on Wednesday does not necessarily mean an exit automatically from the tournament. The player that has the best record out of each of the 16 groups advances to the round of 16 that starts the knockout stage.
No information was released as to whether Lefty would play in the Players Championship next week, which he won back in 2007. Tiger Woods this week announced that he would be playing at the Players.
The match play tournament starts on Wednesday with the 16 groups starting their round robin format, which they will play one match for the first three days of the tournament followed by the knockout stages on Saturday and Sunday.