Mickelson’s absence from previous champions’ events at St Andrews has been one of the main talking points in the build-up to the 150th edition of the championship this week.
The 2013 winner insisted he had been invited to the celebratory dinner and four-hole exhibition tournament but, having become one of the faces of the controversial rival Saudi-backed LIV series Saudi Arabia refused to avoid becoming a distraction.
This differs from the position taken with the LIV figurehead Greg NormandOpen champion in 1986 and 1993, the R&A organizers having made it clear that the Australian had not been invited.
“The R&A contacted me a few weeks before and said, ‘Look, we don’t think it’s a good idea to go, but if you want to, you can,'” Mickelson told reporters after starting his last Open challenge with a -par 72.
“I just didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I said ‘fine.’ We both agreed that it would be better if I didn’t.
Asked if he was sad to be in such a situation, the 52-year-old replied: “No, no. No way. I think I couldn’t be more excited and ecstatic about where I am.
“I love events. I can have golf in my life and competitive golf in my life on a scale that’s fun, exciting, different and allows me to play and compete while still doing the things outside that I want to do.
Taken even further by missing the dinner, attended by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom WatsonSir Nick Faldo And Tiger Woods, Mickelson yelled, “Let it go, man. Let go. You’ve asked the same question three times now.
” I do not know what to tell you. I couldn’t be happier.
Mickelson insisted he had no regrets about signing up for the LIV Tour, which sparked a huge in-game row and got him banned from the PGA Tour.
The American said: “I made the right decision for me and I’m excited to have the opportunity to play competitive golf and have it in my life on a more moderate scale, where I can also do some things outside of that. I also freed up a lot of time.
“I couldn’t be happier. I think it’s been really good. I can’t wait to get to New Jersey and play another event there.
Woods criticized LIV players this week for “turning their backs on what got them to this position.” He also denounced the 54-hole format of LIV tournaments.
Mickelson said: “I certainly respect his opinion. I have a lot of respect for him. I think everyone is going to have strong emotions and opinions about this, and I certainly respect theirs.