PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson’s absence, concession prices and more from Southern Hills

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TULSA — Leaders of the PGA of America quickly addressed the elephant in the room.

Phil Mickelson, the defending PGA champion, is not at Southern Hills Country Club to defend his title ahead of the 104th PGA Championship.

PGA of America's president Jim Richerson, CEO Seth Waugh and chief championships officer Kerry Haigh addressed media members Tuesday morning, and Mickelson quickly came up. The PGA announced Friday that Mickelson wouldn’t be in Tulsa, though he had registered for the tournament.

“No one was more excited than us last year when Phil had his epic win, right? It's amazing,” Waugh said. “He's done something nobody else has ever done and win a major at 50. It was one of the great moments in golf, and we'll never ... forget it. We certainly looked forward to him defending.

“He's not here. It's at his choice. He and I have had some conversations before, during, and after, and I can really say that on Friday his camp called and said he's not ready to play. Obviously we respect that. We understand it.”

Numerous players were also asked about Mickelson's absence. Tiger Woods, who won in 2007 when the PGA Championship was last at Southern Hills, said it’s always upsetting when the defending champion isn’t there.

Jon Rahm, who’s ranked No. 2 in the world, offered a similar sentiment.

“I can't remember the last time a major champion didn't defend a title,” Rahm said. “But he's got to do what's best for him. That's all I can say.”

Here’s a collection of news and notes from the day:

More: Tiger Woods, Southern Hills have both changed plenty since 2007 PGA Championship

Concession prices cause a stir at PGA Championship

A picture of concession items floated around Twitter on Monday, showing some steep prices.

A bottle of water? $6. Michelob Ultra? $18. Stella Artois and signature cocktails? $19.

Those prices caused fans and even golfers to take to social media. It should be noted, the beers come in 25 oz. cans, which equates to $9 per 12.5 ounces of Michelob Ultra.

Yet the PGA stood behind its prices.

“We're comfortable with where we are, and we hope spectators will come out and have a great time and a great experience,” Haigh said.

Haigh noted that come Thursday, a general admission ticket includes unlimited non-alcoholic beverages and food.

Brooks Koepka, who is sponsored by Michelob Ultra, also saw the prices: “Michelob Ultra is 18 bucks, but it’s a tall boy… It's bigger than the normal ones, so you'll be all right. You drink enough, you'll be fine.”

Justin Thomas, who tweeted about the prices Monday, said he was blown away when he saw it: “You want people to come to the tournament. If I'm on the fence and I'm looking at the concession stand, that's not the greatest thing. I've never seen a beer $18 or $19 in my life. Guys have been talking about it, so I, you know, had to stand up for the fans. Felt like it was right.”

More: Three Sooners saw Scottie Scheffler's PGA breakout before the world at the 'Dirty Meadow'

PGA putts & divots

► Two-time PGA champion Rory McIlroy hadn’t played Southern Hills before this week, but he loves what he has seen so far: “I think you're going to see a lot of different strategies this week. It's a really good track. I really enjoyed playing it yesterday, and I think it's going to be a wonderful test.”

► Jon Rahm is also impressed: “Yeah, it's a major championship worthy golf course. It's as simple as that. You can't hide. You have to do everything well.”

► Two-time PGA champion Brooks Koepka withdrew from the AT&T Byron Nelson in McKinney, Texas, last week, but he said he’s good to go.

► Koepka was also an hour late to his media interview because his keys got locked in his car, along with his clubs

► Collin Morikawa said he enjoys the old-school layout: “You need to stay observant because out here it can kind of get away from you really quick.”

► Thomas said he didn’t talk with anyone who played in the Senior PGA Championship last May at Southern Hills: “I probably should have done that.”

► Cameron Smith, who won the 2022 PLAYERS, said he sees similarities at Southern Hills to courses in his home country: “I love the surrounds of the greens rolling off, same slopes of golf we play back in Australia.”

► Patrick Cantlay said “bug him” isn’t the right term as he’s looking to win his first major: “But definitely something I'm really earnest on trying to fix.”

► World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler: “Tiger’s here, so nobody really remembers I’m here.”

Cameron Jourdan covers high school sports across the Oklahoma City metro and state. Have a story idea for Cameron? He can be reached at cjourdan@oklahoman.com or on Twitter at @Cam_Jourdan. Support Cameron’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at subscribe.oklahoman.com or by using the link at the top of this page.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: PGA Championship: Phil Mickelson, concession prices are talking points