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Phil Mickelson sounds off on major invites again, deletes tweet soon after

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Suhaimi Abdullah

The PGA of America announced the full field of next week’s PGA Championship Wednesday, causing a minor stir on Golf Twitter regarding who was in and who was out. Surprise, surprise, Phil Mickelson joined in the conversation.

Having recently taken aim at the USGA and its CEO Mike Whan for changing criteria that left out LIV golfer Talor Gooch from a full exemption to the U.S. Open, Mickelson turned his attention to a new governing body with a post Thursday morning. Shortly after hitting publish, Mickelson took it back by deleting the tweet. Unfortunately for Lefty, the internet lives forever.

Mickelson appeared to be calling out the fact that a handful of LIV golfers who were not in the PGA Championship field are ranked higher on the Official World Golf Ranking than at least one golfer who will be competing, Beau Hossler, ranked 128th. “PGA uses owgr to get in," Mickelson wrote in a tweet, seemingly questioning why the LIV golfers were passed over.

The problem? The PGA of America technically doesn’t use the OWGR or at least in the way he seemed to think, to fill the field list. This year, there were three spots given to the top three on the OWGR’s International Federation Ranking List as of April 24, and there were spots for playing members of the last named U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams (2021), provided they remain in the top 100 on the OWGR as of May 7. But since none of the players Mickelson mentioned played on either Ryder Cup team, that couldn't have been what he was referring to, either.

Additionally, there is a clause the PGA of America has regarding qualifying for the PGA Championship that states: The PGA of America reserves the right to invite additional players not included in the categories listed above.” This is a catch-all the PGA of America has used for many years to invite the remaining players inside the top 100 in the OWGR who have not previously qualified for the event. It was also used this year to allow the PGA of America to boast that 99 of the top 100 players in the OWGR are competing at Oak Hill (an injured Will Zalatoris the lone exception). However, unlike Augusta National, the USGA and the R&A, the PGA of America does not use the OWGR as its own exempt category.

Whatever Mickelson thought, he soon realized it was incorrect. Interestingly though, the deleted tweet also featured some other spicy commentary, too, with Mickelson saying the PGA was "colluding with Tour and against LIV" and also adding "3 years from now who is most likely to still be here? Monahan or LIV? We won't forget. You too [Mike] Whan."

Not helping Mickelson's deleted case, either, was the fact that LIV golfer Paul Casey, ranked 131st in the world (three spots behind Hossler) got into the PGA Championship field.

In fairness to Mickelson, the 2021 PGA champion, he's not the only pro who was confused by some names on the field list that went live on Wednesday. As Barstool Sports' Dan Rapaport noted, one player wondered how Alex Smalley, ranked 77th on the PGA Championship points list and 102nd in the OWGR, was not in the field, while multiple players behind in both of those categories, including Joel Dahmen, Webb Simpson and Casey, were all in the field. Dahmen himself was even surprised by his inclusion. However, that would again be because of the PGA of America’s clause that states it has the right to invite additional players not included in its other qualifying categories. (By the way, Smalley wound up getting in on Thursday when Vijay Singh withdrew from the championship.)

One thing is certain: There's never been so much drama revolving around criteria to get into the majors than there has been in 2023.