Phil Mickelson's legacy has not been ruined by his contentious comments regarding the LIV Golf Invitational, according to Jon Rahm.
Mickelson has not played since February after he was criticised for comments about the Saudi Arabian-backed breakaway competition, which holds its first event in London next month.
The 51-year-old apologised for those comments and decided to take a break from golf, though he was one of a number of high-profile players to then request a release from the PGA Tour for the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club from June 9 to 11.
Mickelson's representatives confirmed at the time that he had not definitively decided on playing in the tournament, or indeed the US PGA Championship, which tees off on Thursday in Tulsa.
The American is the reigning champion, having become the oldest player to win a major when he triumphed at Kiawah Island in 2021, but last week the tournament organisers confirmed he had withdrawn.
While Mickelson's withdrawal may well boost the chances of Rahm winning at Southern Hills Country Club, the world number two is sad not to see one of golf's biggest stars at the event.
However, he believes six-time major winner Mickelson should be able to return to the PGA Tour when he sees fit.
Rahm told Sky Sports: "He's given his life to the sport. Nobody has been better to the fans over a 30-year span and nobody has done more for the Tour than he has, right.
"Obviously Tiger [Woods] took his game to many places, but Phil won over 40 events and six majors.
"That characteristic smile and thumbs up are synonymous with Phil Mickelson. It's a name that is known worldwide.
"I don't think that a couple comments at the wrong time should dictate the legacy of a man.
"If anything, we're in America, the land of opportunity, right? If there's a place where things can be forgiven, and you can get back to where you need to be, it's here. I think given time and the proper course of action, that can happen."
That being said, Rahm understands that Mickelson ultimately brought the criticism on himself.
"He said what he said, he brought it on himself, so it needs to come from him to take it back to where it should be," Rahm added.