Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson has confirmed his participation in the first LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament at Centurion Club near London this week.
The American was a surprise omission when the first 42 names in the 48-man field were announced last week, with former world No1 Dustin Johnson topping the bill instead.
But organisers of the new $255m (£204m) series of tournaments announced on Monday night that Mickelson would be teeing it up in Hertfordshire on Thursday after all.
“Phil Mickelson is unequivocally one of the greatest golfers of this generation,” said Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf.
“His contributions to the sport and connection to fans around the globe cannot be overstated and we are grateful to have him. He strengthens an exciting field for London where we’re proud to launch a new era for golf.”
The inclusion of Mickelson is a boost to the field, which aside from Johnson also includes fellow major winners Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosithuizen and Martin Kaymer.
It also likely to generate debate, however, not least because of the 51-year-old’s controversial comments about the LIV Golf project, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, earlier this year.
In a statement confirming his return to golf after a four-month absence, Mickelson said he apologised “to the many people I offended and hurt with my comments”.
“I am ready to come back to play the game I love but after 32 years this new path is a fresh start,” he added, “one that is exciting for me at this stage of my career and is clearly transformative, not just for myself but ideally for the game and my peers.”
Mickelson said he would also look to compete at more majors, having missed his defence of the US PGA Championship last month.
“I fully realise some may disagree with this decision and have strong opinions and I empathise with that,” he said.
Completing the field at Centurion Club will be five players who qualified via the Asian Tour International Series following last week’s tournament at Slayley Hall in Northumberland.
They are: Itthipat Buranatanyarat of Thailand, Indian Viraj Madappa, South Africa’s Ian Snyman and Australian pair Travis Smyth and Kevin Yuan.
Norman added: “Our International Series qualifiers have earned an incredible opportunity to compete in LIV Golf’s new format, and I’m eager to watch all of them tee it up next week.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of them, and that has been a driving force behind our mission at LIV – creating player pathways and new opportunities to play the game we all love.”
Mickelson has been one of the most successful players of the last three decades, whose tally of majors in the time is second only to Tiger Woods’.
He won his most recent at the US PGA Championship last year, when he became the oldest man to win a major, aged 50 years, 11 months, and 7 days.
Mickelson has won more than 57 professional titles and spent 25 consecutive years in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
He has not competed since February, however, after taking a break from the sport in the wake of a backlash against remarks he made about Saudi Arabia.
LIV Golf organisers, meanwhile, have announced that Craig David, James Bay, Mel C and Jessie J will be among the music acts performing at the first event this week.