‘Phil was not missed’: Past PGA Championship winner says Phil Mickelson’s absence from Champions Dinner did not spoil the party

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TULSA, Okla. – Tuesday’s Champions Dinner at the PGA Championship was light on past winners of the Wanamaker Trophy.

Just over 10 PGA champs attended the dinner in the main clubhouse of Southern Hills Country Club, home this week to the 104th PGA Championship.

Among the missing? Phil Mickelson.

“Phil was not missed,” said Dave Stockton, who won the PGA Championship in 1970 and 1976. “I think Phil would have been a big distraction. The story here this week is the PGA.”

Mickelson would have hosted the dinner after becoming the oldest major champion last year when he won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island two months shy of turning 51. Mickelson elected not to defend his title this year as he extended his self-imposed hiatus from the game following disparaging remarks of the PGA Tour and the oppressive Saudi Arabia regime, which is financially backing Greg Norman’s rival LIV Golf Investments.

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Joining Stockton for the dinner were past champions Collin Morikawa, Jeff Sluman, Rory McIlroy, Mark Brooks, Jason Dufner, Rich Beem, Martin Kaymer, Jason Dufner, Padraig Harrington and Keegan Bradley.

“So last night I spoke,” Stockton said. “It was surreal for me. I’m used to being the youngest and now I was clearly the oldest, which at 80 years of age that kind of shakes you up a bit.

“And then at the end Mark Brooks got up, they got him up, and he immediately had everybody comment what’s their worst shot and best shot.”

Morikawa, obviously, said his best shot was his driver on the par-4 16th hole at Harding Park in the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship which came to rest seven feet from the hole. Morikawa canned the putt for eagle and won by two.

“Everybody had a similar story and everything,” Stockton said. “It was fun.”