Defending champion Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from next week’s PGA Championship, tournament organisers say.

The American, 51, became the oldest major winner in history last year when he won the PGA at Kiawah Island for his sixth career major title.

He has not played since February after criticism of his comments about the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

The fallout saw him miss the Masters for the first time in 28 years.

Mickelson lost multiple sponsors and saw his reputation tarnished after he criticised the Saudi regime and sought to use involvement with a Saudi Arabian-backed golf super league to gain leverage over the PGA Tour.

He had been named in the 156-man field for golf’s second major of the year, which takes place from 19-22 May.

In a post on Twitter, the PGA of America wrote: “We have just been informed that Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the PGA Championship.

“Phil is the defending champion and currently eligible to be a PGA Life Member and we would have welcomed him to participate.

“We wish Phil and [wife] Amy the very best and look forward to his return to golf.”

Australian Greg Norman is fronting the $255m (£207m) Saudi-funded LIV Golf competition, with the first of eight events taking place at Centurion Club, near London, in June.

Norman has said he expects to announce some of the field next week, during the build-up to the PGA Championship, with the final field set to be confirmed on 27 May.

Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are among the players who sought permission from the PGA Tour to play.

Like Mickelson, former world number Norman, 67, has also created controversy around the event when he told reporters “we’ve all made mistakes” as he fielded questions on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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