Rory McIlroy wants golf to move past ‘unfortunate’ Phil Mickelson situation


McIlroy was speaking ahead of the start of this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational
McIlroy believes Mickelson will return after the six-time major winner said he was taking a break from golf

Rory McIlroy has said he hopes to see Phil Mickelson welcomed back to golf and insists that the players want to see the six-time major champion return.

McIlroy previously criticised Mickelson’s comments about the prospect of joining a Saudi-backed breakaway tour but believes golf should move on.

“This whole situation is unfortunate but Phil will be back,” said McIlroy.

“The players want to see him back. He’s done such a wonderful job for the game of golf, he’s represented the game of golf very, very well for the entirety of his career.”

Mickelson faced backlash for comments he made in November to writer Alan Shipnuck, who released the interview last month before the publication of his unauthorised biography of the player.

Although Mickelson claimed his remarks were taken out of context, the US PGA champion admitted his comments were “reckless” and that he was “deeply sorry for his choice of words”.

Mickelson said he would use his time away from golf “to work on becoming the man I want to be” and McIlroy has called for golf to move past the episode when the three-time Masters winner returns to action.

“We all make mistakes,” added world number five McIlroy, 32.

“We all say things that we want to take back. But we should be allowed to make mistakes and we should be allowed to ask for forgiveness and for people to forgive us and move on.

“Hopefully, he comes back at some stage, and he will, and people will welcome him back and be glad that he is back.”

McIlroy perplexed by Bay Hill changes

McIlroy was speaking before the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, where he hopes to triumph for the second time after claiming the title in 2018.

The Northern Irishman boasts an impressive record at the tournament, having never finished lower than 27th, but admits to being taken aback by changes made to the Bay Hill course.

The four-time major winner said: “The rough is thick off the fairways, but then what they’ve done is they’ve taken out a lot of these run-off areas off the greens where historically you’d miss a green and run off and you’d still have to chip off short grass, for example, and now that’s all been filled in with rough.

“There’s just so many areas that there were run-offs and sort of tight areas, which I think lends itself to the better chippers of the golf ball, and that’s been sort of taken away this year.

“I don’t quite understand why they’ve done that, but it’s definitely a different test than one in previous years.”

McIlroy begins his quest for a second win at Bay Hill on Thursday at 13:27 GMT alongside former Masters winner Adam Scott and Sepp Straka, who won last week’s Honda Classic.

Bryson DeChambeau will not defend his title, however, having withdrawn earlier this week because of injury.

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