PGA Championship winner not missing Phil Mickelson's presence at dinner

Mickelson, who won last year, decided not to play in the tournament. He had been under fire for his comments about Saudi Arabia and his criticism of the PGA Tour as he appears to be readying to play in the Saudi-backed rival golf league.

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Dave Stockton speaks during a practice round for the 2022 PGA Championship at the Southern Hills on May 18, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dave Stockton speaks during a practice round for the 2022 PGA Championship at the Southern Hills on May 18, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

“It was a fun evening. Phil was not missed. I think Phil would have been a big distraction whether he was here,” Stockton said. “The story here this week is the PGA.”

Mickelson brushed off the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian agents in Turkey and hit the PGA Tour over their so-called “obnoxious greed.” The comments about Khashoggi were revealed in an excerpt of a forthcoming book from Alan Shipnuck. He jabbed the PGA Tour in an interview with Golf Digest

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: PHIL MICKELSON’S ABSENCE LEAVING ORGANIZERS, GOLFERS ‘DISAPPOINTED’

PGA officials and players pose for a photo during the champions dinner of the 2022 PGA Championship held at Southern Hills Country Club on May 17, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

PGA officials and players pose for a photo during the champions dinner of the 2022 PGA Championship held at Southern Hills Country Club on May 17, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Montana Pritchard/PGA of America)

Stockton, 80, won the PGA Championship in 1970 over Bob Murphy and Arnold Palmer and in 1976 over Raymond Floyd and Don January. It’s the only major he won during his professional career.

Mickelson would’ve been the host of the event and would have picked a gift for players. The PGA of America instead chose the gift. Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, Mark Brooks and Jeff Sluman were among the former champions who attended the dinner.

Stockton lamented the dinner turnout in comparison to the Masters dinner.

Phil Mickelson during Sunday play at Kiawah Island Resort Ocean Course in South Carolina.

Phil Mickelson during Sunday play at Kiawah Island Resort Ocean Course in South Carolina. (Rick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

“That’s what this should be,” he said. “I don’t quite understand why because I think it’s very important for us as champions to come back.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.