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Phil Mickelson's mom said he's happier than ever amid exile: 'He's in such a good place'

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Phil Mickelson has kept quiet since his sudden downfall and departure from golf earlier this year.

According to his mom, however, Mickelson is “in such a good place.”

Mary Mickelson spoke to USA Today’s Josh Peter this week about her son since his controversial comments about the Saudi Arabia-backed golf league and his move to step away from the sport completely. He was supposed to defend his title at this week’s PGA Championship, too, but he dropped out on Friday.

While it’s been a tumultuous time for Mickelson, to say the least, Mary said he’s now as happy as he’s been in years.

“I wish you could see him now,’’ Mary said, via USA Today. “He’s relaxed, he laughs all the time. He’s not on the phone with people that are calling him for this and that, and please play in this tournament, and it’s hard when you have to say no, when you don’t have the time to spend. But he has taken a lot of time with our family.

“Tim and Tina, his brother and sister, have mentioned that too. How happy he seems. How relaxed and comfortable. And if it means going through all of this … I’m happy for him.”

Though she’s obviously biased, Mary said she’s noticed a real change in her son over the past three months — both in his behavior and in his appearance.

“I didn’t recognize him at first,’’ Mary said, via USA Today. “He had a little bit of a beard and mustache. I don’t ever remember him doing that before. Not too many people recognize him, so it’s been fun to be able to go out with him.’’

When will Phil Mickelson return?

That’s the big question, one that golf fans still don’t have the answer to.

The Hall of Famer hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since the Farmers Insurance Open in January, where he missed his second straight cut of the season. He didn’t cite a reason why he withdrew from the PGA Championship this week, either. Mickelson did request a release from the Tour to play in the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event next month in London, though the Tour denied all of those requests. It’s unclear if Mickelson will still compete there anyway.

And during his absence, a report came out that Mickelson lost about $40 million gambling over just a four-year span.

Still, despite all that has happened to him, Mary believes that fans will “see a different person if he decides to come back and if he plays, someone who’s going to enjoy playing just to be playing.”

The key word there, however, is “if.”

“We don’t talk about [golf] very much,” Mary said, via USA Today. “I know when he comes to visit, we’re always in the backyard putting and chipping and just playing around. I guess he’s getting out there. I really don’t know for sure.”

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson, now sporting facial hair, apparently "laughs all time time" now after stepping away from golf. (Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)